Freeze Shuts Fracking Down in Biggest U.S. Shale Basins

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Fracking in America’s biggest shale basins has gone dark as 70% of U.S. completion crews wait for an historic freeze to thaw out before they can return to work.

Texas’s Permian and Eagle Ford plays, the SCOOP/STACK fields of Oklahoma and the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana are all being affected, with the crews that blast water, sand and chemicals underground to release oil and gas unable operate, according to the industry research firm Infill Thinking. The four basins comprise almost three-quarters of the nation’s fleet of frack crews, according to the firm.

Fracking in the Permian Basin, America’s busiest shale field, is expected to stay “almost entirely shut down” through the end of this week, Joseph Triepke, founder of Infill Thinking, wrote in a report Tuesday.

“The impact of this weather event in the oilfield was much worse than expected,” Triepke wrote. “We all expected the cold, but the second-order effects were much worse than anyone forecasted.”

Record-cold temperatures have forced power outages to homes and businesses throughout much of the central U.S., stretching from North Dakota to Texas. More than 1 million barrels a day of oil and 10 billion cubic feet of gas production are shut and massive refineries have halted gasoline and diesel output. Fracking in the U.S. had been steadily climbing since hitting a low of 45 crews in May due to shut downs amid low oil prices and the global pandemic, according to Primary Vision Inc.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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