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Turning Oil Wells Back on Is Trickier Than Shutting Them Off

  • Reviving shuttered oil wells presents entirely new challenges
  • Millions of barrels of North American daily supply cut: Plains
Idled drilling rigs stand in Midland, Texas, on April 23. 

Idled drilling rigs stand in Midland, Texas, on April 23. 

Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg
Updated on

With thousands of oil wells choking back or completely shutting off production, companies already are looking ahead to what may prove to be an even bigger challenge: turning wells back on.

U.S. and Canadian oil producers are curbing as much as 4.5 million barrels of daily supplies, according to Plains All American Pipeline LP. In the U.S. alone, drillers have announced plans to halt more than 600,000 barrels of daily output this month and next, said Rystad Energy AS. Old-style, conventional wells were the first to go down and the closures are expanding to some of the horizontal gushers that represent shale drillers’ prize assets.