Sunday, March 27, 2011

Overview of Activity in the Williston Oil Basin -- Spring, 2011 -- Bakken, North Dakota, USA -- March 27, 2011

It is extremely difficult to keep track of all the various entities in the Bakken and their plans/strategies but here's a start. This is a work in progress and subject to updates between now and first day of summer. I placed the oil E&P into various categories to help "newbies" better understand all the oil companies operating in the Williston Basin. The tiers are subjective and pretty much based on a) net acreage; b) perceived effectiveness; and, c) frequency one reads about them in the general press with regard to the Bakken.

Major oil exploration and production operators: 
  • CLR: the "face" of the Bakken; the most number of rigs by far; the most acreage; goal is to triple the size of their company in five years; operates throughout the Bakken; completed 105 gross wells in 2010 --> more than 10% of all wells drilled; CLR knows the geology of the Bakken probably better than anyone; first in North Dakota Bakken to advocate multi-well pads (Eco-Pads)
  • WLL: tied for third (with EOG) for most acreage; Sanish oil field is WLL's cash cow; setting up operations around Belfield (North Dakota) for Three Forks "pinch out"; perhaps second best IPs (second only to BEXP), particularly great IPs in the Sanish
  • BEXP: moved from second tier to first tier based on outstanding IPs and very good wells; now at the top of many lists published by analysts following the Bakken; announced "SmartPad" multi-well pad concept in 2011
  • HES: second most net acreage (after CLR); lackluster IPs and wells in general (at least that's my impression; not statistically verified); six wells on same pad (or abutting pads); added significant addition to Bakken portfolio when it bought American Oil and Gas (AEZ)
  • EOG: third in net acreage (tied with WLL); started off fast in the Parshall oil field, but seems to have lost their touch (again, that's my impression; not statistically verified);
Second tier exploration and production operators:
  • XOM: in the Bakken through their subsidiary XTO in southwest area of the reservation
  • COP: in the Bakken through their subsidiary BR in various areas of the Bakken; was the largest oil producer in North Dakota leading up to the current boom; has since dropped back
  • OXY USA (Occidental): entered North Dakota Bakken by acquiring Anschutz Bakken acreage in 2010 
  • NFX (Newfield): fair amount of acreage; generally nice wells
  • MRO: fair amount of acreage, but wells mediocre in general
  • DNR: see below
  • OAS: seemingly came out of nowhere to become a huge player in the Bakken; moved to new level when they bought Fidelity (MDU) acreage back in 2009 time frame
  • ERF: second tier but don't hear much about them
Third tier exploration and production:
Fourth tier exploration and production:
  • SSN (Samson Oil and Gas): no rigs; acreage only; partners with operators; currently concentrating its activity in Stockyard Creek,
  • GEOI: often partners with Slawson (see below)
  • QEP: small player in the Bakken based on acreage
  • SM: small player in the Bakken based on acreage
Oil Exploration and Production, Others Not Mentioned Above
  • NOG: unique business plan; money and acreage only for working interest in wells; recent controversy;
  • Slawson: private company; very, very good wells
  • Fidelity: subsidiary of MDU
Fracking Technology
  • Packers Plus Energy Services: 60-Stage Frac Technology
Tertiary Recovery / Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)
  • DNR: EOR not yet common in North Dakota, but when/if CO2 injection works, Denbury will be the leader; became major oil exploration and production company when it acquired Encore a year or so ago
  • Crescent Point: major EOR (waterflooding) player; based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Enbridge, oil: major pipeline operator in the Bakken; will double takeaway capacity in 2011-2012 time frame; announced in 2011 that it would ship only Bakken light, sweet oil in its system
  • ONEOK, NGL: a 600-mile pipeline from ND Bakken to ONEOK's Overland Pass  Pipeline which connects southern Wyoming to Conway, Kansas;$500-million project
  • Range Energy (Sugar Land, TX): COLT extender
Spearfish Formation in the Williston Basin
  • Legacy Oil and Gas: Canadian company with connections to Surge Energy; Calgary-based
  • Surge Energy: recently acquired Ritchie's Bottineau Spearfish wells; Calgary-based
  • EOG: but IPs have been very, very poor; minimally active
  • SLB: huge fracking operations center in Williston, North Dakota
  • HAL: made first announcement to have 24/7 frac teams to try to keep up with schedule
  • Sanjel: huge fracking operations center in Williston, North Dakota, across the road from SLB
Railroad Oil Shipping/Railports
  • BNI: now owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway
  • EOG: railroad loading terminals, Stanley
  • Savage Companies (Salt Lake City): railport at Trenton, southwest of Williston 
  • Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P. (KMEP):  Dore and Stanley, North Dakota
  • Range Energy (Sugar Land, Texas): Epping, North Dakota
Natural Gas Gathering and Processing Facilities
  • MDU: headquartered in Bismarck, North Dakota; has been in North Dakota "forever"; focused on natural gas and missed the Bakken oil boom
  • ONEOK: announced major investment plans for western North Dakota in 2010; subsidiary Bear Paw Energy is operator 
That's it: it's closing time


    1. If memory serves me, the largest single ONEOK project is a 600 mile NGL pipeline from the Bakken to connect to their Overland Pipeline.

    2. You have a very good memory.

      Yes, a new 600-mile NGL pipeline will go from the ND Bakken to connect with the partnership's Overland Pass Pipeline, a 760-mile NGL pipeline extending from southern Wyoming to Conway, Kansas. A $500 million project.

      My original post was here:

      I will add it in the post above. Thank you.

    3. Is GasFrac Energy worth a mention here?

    4. Does GasFrac Energy deserve a mention here?

    5. I immediately replied that I would include GasFrac Energy on the list, but then when I went to the corporate presentation it does not show any activity in the North Dakota Bakken.

      The company says they have fracked in the "Bakken" but do not clarify if it's Alberta Bakken or North Dakota Bakken. It looks like they are all over the Alberta Bakken (Canada) but not in North Dakota.

      If I'm wrong, and there is a sizable presence of GasFrac Energy in North Dakota, I will add it.

    6. Just looking into this - late in the game maybe - but our mineral rights are
      160 N 102 W 9 160 251101 PA 451428

      160 N 102 W 4 160 251101 PA 45142

      Fertile Valley in Divide County. Can you tell me anything about that area?

      Thank you

    7. You are definitely not late to the game. The Bakken is still in the early innings.

      We are just starting to see activity in Fertile Valley.

      I just added an update for Fertile Valley, so we can follow developments in that field at:

      If that doesn't work, click on "Fertile Valley Update" at the link on the right sidebar.

      Thank you for taking time to write. It gave me an opportunity to look more closely at another oil field.

    8. Our family has 534 acres leased in Township 159 North, Range 101 West of the 5th P.M.; Section 6: SE1/4SW1/4, SW1/4SE1/4
      Section 7: Losts1, 2, 3, 4, NE1/4, E1/2SW1/4, E1/2NW1/4

      Do you have any info about this area or can you point us to informational sources we can read about?
      thanking you for any assistance

    9. You may want to post the same question over at the Bakken Shale Discussion Group: that site is designed for mineral owners; my site, not so much:

      Having said that, that township (159-101) is north of the core Bakken, along the Divide-Williams County line. There is increased interest that far north based on recent KOG acquistion, but in this particular township, there is no defined field. There is one location on confidential status in that township, a Marathon well, just to the east of your section 7.

    10. Hey Bruce! We live in Florida yet own mineral rights in Divide Co. and don't pay much attention to whats happening "up in there" and not allot said on MSM so thought I would ask a pro here if you know about any activity in T160N-R101 West Sec.24,Divide Co.?? Any info appreciated greatly=>

      1. It looks like the NDIC GIS map server is down. I am going off-line in a few minutes (I'm traveling) but I will be back on the net late tonight or tomorrow morning (Tuesday) at which time I will see if the map is back up.

      2. "Well search" function at the NDIC site is also down at the moment.

      3. Not much going on in that township right now. There is one well in that township, in section 8, a Hunt well, #23233, Sioux Trail well. It also appears that the township is not in any designated field yet.