Lower 48 oil and gas producers have drawn down their inventory of drilled but uncompleted (DUC) wells to pre-pandemic levels, reflecting an improved commodity pricing and demand outlook, according to new analysis by Rystad Energy.


After reaching a multiyear high of 6,548 wells last June, the DUC count in the country’s major oil regions fell to 5,700 as of year-end, the Oslo-based consultancy said Monday.

The amount of “live” DUCs, which excludes tentatively abandoned wells that were previously drilled, also fell to 3,528 in December from 4,353 in June, researchers said. The current live horizontal oil well DUC count is similar to where it was in early 2020 before the Covid-induced market downturn began.

“Given the recent recovery in oil prices, the industry is...