Tuesday, August 16, 2011

20,000 Wells In The Bakken? Nope 48,000 -- North Dakota, USA


Remember this post, just a few days ago. Just moments ago I was alerted to a PowerPoint presentation was inserted into a North Dakota business meeting, the Bismarck-Mandan Development Association, where CLR/CEO spoke. In his remarks, Harold Hamm said:
The magnitude of the current oil play, quite frankly, is staggering.  Mr. Hamm made it very clear that this is not a short two or three year oil boom and then a big bust.  His projections would see drilling activities continuing in excess of 20 years, followed by years of supporting production activities.  Mr. Hamm suggested that there will be some 48,000 wells drilled in North Dakota’s western oil patch in that period of time.
My hunch is that the 48,000 represents more than just the Bakken Pool.

Original Post

That was posted back on April 27, 2010. In the lead paragraph in a Minot Daily News story on April 27, 2010:
"The head of the state department that oversees mineral resources in North Dakota says it will take 10,000 to 20,000 wells to fully develop the Bakken-Three Forks Formations."
The four major oil counties in North Dakota comprise 9,032 square miles: Mountrail (1,941 square miles); Williams (2,148 square miles); Dunn (2,082 square miles); and, McKenzie (2,861 square miles).

Coming out of the Enercom Conference and recent corporate presentations elsewhere suggests that four (4) wells per section will be the norm in the future. BEXP has already proved 4.5 wells/spacing unit is possible; BEXP has announced a pilot program testing 5.5 wells/spacing unit. CLR says 8 wells/spacing unit should be the norm.

The math works out. At 4 wells/spacing unit, one can come up with about 18,000 wells in those four counties. It's remarkable how close the figures come, 18,000 vs 20,000. If CLR is correct, closer to 8 wells/spacing unit, we get to an astounding 36,000 wells in those four counties.

This does not include Divide County, smaller, not as productive; Burke County, fairly good in the south; and the excitement in the southwestern part of the state right now: Golden Valley, Billings, and Stark Counties.

At a 1,000 wells/year, this works out to a minimum of  20 years of drilling, again, a number consistent with past estimates.


  1. If 4 to 8 wells per section will become the "norm", this means that much additional time will be spent per section which means that expiring leases will also become a "norm" for the Williston Basin area unless these operators add additional rigs to their current fleet. I think these operators are learning more and more on how to better utilize their time and equipment and the mineral owners who have yet to be drilled on will benefit greatly from this experience.

  2. That may be, but unlikely.

    One well in the spacing unit holds the entire spacing unit.

    CLR has said when drilling an Eco-Pad, it will interrupt the drilling program to move the rig to a site where the lease is soon to expire, and then move the rig back to the Eco-Pad.

    There are 192 active rigs now, but already the "announced" number of rigs stands at 225. More than half the operators will have more rigs next year. In addition, they are now reaching total depth in 15 days. Production occurs even without fracking.

    I think mineral owners will do better over time, but I don't think it will be due to expiring leases, at least not to any great extent.

  3. I was mistaken in that I was thinking from the article that the operator would concentrate on the multiple wells at one time and my thinking was that other leases would be expiring. I now understand what you are saying and it makes sense. When this show is in its final stages (several years down the road), it looks like the majority of the mineral owners in the Williston Basin should have at least one well on their acreage.

  4. At least four wells on their acreage.

  5. Do you think this multiple well scenerio will be commonplace in the Eastern Montana area such as Richland, Roosevelt and Sheridan Counties?

  6. Yes, absolutely. The state line is an arbitrary border. The Bakken is a continuous reservoir.