Nearly 1,500 Wells...  

Marginal Wells Dominate State's Oil Fields

With America's oil production on the decline, few in Nebraska may know that the state plays a role in stemming the tide of oil imports.  Even fewer know that most of the oil pumped in Nebraska comes from wells that produce about three barrels of oil a day. 

According to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission's latest study, Nebraska has 1,498 stripper oil wells that produce about 3.34 barrels a day.  In 1999, an estimated 1.828 million barrels of oil came from these low-volume wells.  Another 66 wells were plugged or abandoned last year.

Stripper wells are classified as low-volume producers since generally fewer than 10 barrels of oil is pumped each day from the well.  More than one quarter of the nation's oil production -- excluding Alaska and coastal areas -- comes from the 423,000 low-volume wells.

An estimated 2.681 million barrels of oil were produced in Nebraska in 1999.  This production is valued at $46.14 million when based on an average oil price of $17.21 a barrel.

Nebraska ranked 19th in the nation in oil production, 15th in stripper well production in 1999 and 5th in the average daily production per stripper well.  

Second Stringers

Nearly two-thirds of the stripper wells in the state use secondary recovery techniques.  Pressure in an underground formation pushes oil upward, allowing it to be extracted.  In older wells and mature fields, this pressure has diminished over time, decreasing the flow of oil.  The recovery techniques used typically include injection of water or gas into the formation, which allows the oil to flow more easily.

Long, Slow Decline

Since reaching a peak in oil production of 24.8 million barrels in 1962, Nebraska's oil output has generally declined.  In 1999, only 2.66 million barrels of oil were produced.  This is a decline of 16 percent from the 3.18 million barrels produced the year before. 

For more information on stripper wells and their part in the nation's energy production picture, visit the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission's web site.  The summary of the latest report on stripper wells can be found at

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