Sourcewater has developed and patented DirtWork Alert™ (DWA), a system for detecting oilfield activity in satellite imagery. We identified and analyzed every well pad, drilling permit and spud (drilling start) in the Permian Basin in 2018 and 2019 to quantify the time and probability relationships between these critical oilfield events and to assess the accuracy of the DWA model.
In Texas, the appearance of a well pad predicted a spud earlier than a drilling permit for about 1/3rd of spuds, and well pads predicted spuds with similar specificity and sensitivity compared to permits. A drilling permit collocated with a well pad indicated a stronger intention to drill a well sooner than a permit alone.
In New Mexico, the appearance of a well pad predicted a spud earlier than a drilling permit for over 1/3rd of spuds in 2019, and well pad detections predicted spuds with much higher specificity and somewhat higher sensitivity compared to permits alone, while drilling permits paired with a well pad indicated a far stronger intention to drill a well sooner than a permit alone. Satellite imagery detection of well pads is clearly an important enhancement to regulatory data for energy market participants who rely on early and accurate indications of oilfield activity, particularly in New Mexico.