Fracked vs Plugged Wells

If you look through the various views of the ECMC Daily Activity Dashboard, you’ll see a view that shows the number of plugged wells by county and municipality over time, but it’s difficult to understand the trends. Are more wells being plugged and abandoned lately, or less? How can I compare this data year over year? To that end, we’ve prepared this visualization:

Notes and Observations

  • We started our analysis with 2012, the first full year for which completions data was submitted to FracFocus.
  • We started out comparing each month of each year (see individual charts below), but could not discern any seasonal differences between the months of the year, thus we went with the simplified chart above.
  • In 2012, horizontally drilled and hydraulically fractured wells became the majority, as measured by drilling footage. By September 2014, they became the majority by well count (see charts below)
  • By 2018, the vast majority of wells drilled were horizontal, as opposed to directional or vertical.
  • Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, both drilling/fracking and plugging operations have decreased significantly, and have not returned to their pre-pandemic levels.
  • In each year since 2016, more wells have been plugged and abandoned than fracked. We believe this is largely due to new horizontal drilling that requires operators to plug and abandon older vertical and directional wells in the horizontal drilling spacing unit.
Horizontal well production and well counts overtook vertical wells between 2012 and 2014.

Source Data / Individual Charts

The data for these charts came from two distinct sources:

The data was then imported into a Microsoft Excel workbook where the top chart was rendered. A collection of source files and the Microsoft Excel workbook are available for download on Github.

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