U.S. Lower 48

With operations that stretch from the Rocky Mountains to east Texas, BP’s Lower 48 onshore business is one of America’s largest natural gas producers. Over the past two years, it has grown to include a major presence in the Haynesville and Bossier shale plays near the Texas–Louisiana border.

The business operates nearly 10,000 wells and has interests in close to 13,000 others. It produces primarily natural gas — along with oil, condensate and gas liquids — from both conventional and unconventional rock formations. In 2016, it produced an average of 302,000 barrels of oil equivalent each day, and its investment and operating expenditures totaled nearly $1.6 billion.

Its operations span five states — Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming — and seven oil and gas basins, covering an area (6 million net acres) roughly the size of New Jersey.

While wholly owned by BP, the Lower 48 business began operating as a separate entity in 2015 in order to become more competitive in a rapidly changing exploration and production environment. The move has delivered significant results.

”Two years after separating our U.S. Lower 48 onshore business, we have clearly accomplished what we set out to do,” says Lower 48 CEO Dave Lawler. “We have closed the operating cost gap with competitors in every basin where we work, and in some cases we’re now in a leading position. We’ve created a high-performance culture based on innovation, empowerment and accountability, and it’s helping us deliver sustainable returns, even in a low commodity price environment. Meanwhile, we’ve maintained BP’s steadfast commitment to safety.”

“Consequently, we’ve gained visibility among investors as a premier U.S. onshore oil and gas business. As we move into the next phase of our growth, we will build on this early momentum and continue working to unlock the full potential of our business,” Lawler adds.

With decades of experience in the San Juan Basin — located mainly in New Mexico and Colorado — BP has a deep understanding of its reservoirs, and the Lower 48 business has combined that knowledge with innovative technology to help boost production efficiency. In 2015, for example, the company made history by completing its first-ever “multilateral” wells in the basin. Multilateral wells feature multiple horizontal wells connected to a single drilling hole, or “wellbore,” allowing producers to access more of the oil and gas in a given reservoir while reducing the number of drilling sites.

The Lower 48 business expects that a majority of its new wells in the San Juan Basin will be multilaterals, and it is pursuing similar well design improvements across all of its operations. 

In 2017, the business announced that it had brought online a highly productive natural gas well in the basin’s Mancos Shale, highlighting the potential of the New Mexico field to be a significant new source of U.S. natural gas supply. 

Also in 2017, the business expanded its presence in the east Texas portion of the Haynesville–Bossier shale gas fairway, which is one of America’s deepest shale fairways. The Lower 48 team more than doubled its project footprint in the first half of the year, and it had plans to deliver 18 Haynesville and Bossier horizontal wells by the end of the year.