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U.S. shale players doing more with less

Rig deployments down, but efficiency increasing in kind.

By Daniel J. Graeber

HOUSTON, May 5 (UPI) -- Though net profits and spending are down, companies working in U.S. shale basins are finding well costs going down while production forecasts grow.

The low price of oil is forcing energy companies to spend less on exploration and production efforts. Oil field services companies Halliburton and Baker Hughes are merging in an effort to control costs, while others shed numbers from their work force.

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Anadarko Petroleum said it's delivered strong production results during the first quarter while spending less. At shale basins in Colorado, the company said it's saved around $500,000 on drilling operations so far this year. In the Eagle Ford shale basin in Texas, the company said the cost of drilling a well is 14 percent less than during the fourth quarter while it set a production record of 275,000 barrels of oil equivalent.

"The significant cost savings, outstanding well performance and ongoing efficiency gains we achieved during the first quarter enabled Anadarko to deliver higher sales volumes for lower costs," Al Walker, Anadarko's top executive, said in a Monday statement.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in an annual report domestic crude oil production peaks at 10.6 million barrels per day in 2020 and then fades to 9.4 million bpd by 2040. The general increase is greater than forecast in last year's report.

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The full-year average production for 2015 is forecast at 9.2 million bpd.

Concho Resources, which has headquarters in Texas, said its quarterly production of 11.9 million barrels of oil equivalent beat its expectations. Total crude oil production increased 9 percent from the fourth quarter.

For full-year 2015, the company aims to increase overall production by an average range of 20 percent while spending less, largely in the Permian shale in Texas.

"We remain focused on executing a flexible capital program that maintains our financial strength while we capitalize on our high-quality inventory -- an inventory that continues to improve as we optimize our drilling and completion techniques," its top executive, Tim Leach, said.

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