Conventional Drillers Face Tough Decisions re Stripper Wells

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Although some Marcellus/Utica drillers also own conventional (vertical-only) oil and gas wells as part of their portfolio, most conventional drillers are smaller “mom and pop” types of companies. Conventional oil well owners in the M-U, as well as across the country, face some of the same problems as shale drillers with a crash in oil prices: What to do with older wells? Thousands of older conventional oil wells produce as little as 10 barrels of oil per day. These low-producing wells are called stripper wells. With oil selling at $20/barrel, some stripper wells can still break even, but many cannot. It costs an average of $20,000-$40,000 to plug an old stripper well. Sometimes it’s more economic to simply keep a stripper pumping (and losing money) rather than pony up big bucks to close the well. It’s a conundrum.

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