A red herring is something that takes attention away from a more important subject. Rig productivity and drilling efficiency distract from the truth that tight oil producers are losing money at low oil prices.
Pad drilling allows many wells to be drilled from the same location by a single rig. Rig productivity reflects the increased volume of oil and gas thus produced by each of a decreasing number of rigs. It does not account for the number of producing wells that continues to increase in all tight oil plays.
In other words, although the barrels produced per rig is increasing, the barrels per average producing well is decreasing (Figure 1).