Operators have been fracking wells for decades, but lately it's all the rage due to the advent of horizontal drilling and fracking's ability to crack open rocks saturated with oil and/or gas that wasn't previously obtainable.
But how steady is the production stream from a newly fracked well? There's the old analogy that pumping a bunch of stuff into a structure is like shaking up a bottle of hot classic Coke. Pop the top and it spews like old faithful. That sudden gush seems endless, but after the initial spurt the stream dwindles to nothing.
This comes to mind after reading a throw-away line from an abstract of Ed Yardeni's US Oil Production Is Gushing (excerpt). (Via blogs.wsj.com.) He says that America is still some distance from energy independence but that innovative entrepreneurs and new and old technology may make it possible. But here's the line:
The Naysayers say it won’t happen because much of the surge in production is attributable to fracking of old oil wells that deplete in a few months after they are tapped for a second time.
Is that true? All wells will deplete over time, and mature fields like those found in west Texas have produced for decades, albeit at a low rate. But if fracking has given them new life and Yardeni's naysayers are correct, the current west Texas oil boom will last only so long.