Thursday, November 17, 2011

No Longer Stumped -- The Pronghorn Sand / Whiting's Pronghorn Prospect -- The Bakken, North Dakota, USA


Whiting Petroleum drilled 217 oil wells in Billings and Stark counties targeting the Pronghorn Member of the Bakken Formation from 2010-2014.
In their own words, they drilled these wells and pursued this oil play based upon their work in the Wilson M. Laird Core and Sample Library.
As of November 2014, these wells had produced 19,542,147 barrels of oil. Using just the oil extraction tax and a conservative price of $40/ barrel, Whiting’s Pronghorn oil play has generated more than $50,800,000. That is more than three times the $13.6 million core library expansion.
In November 2014, Whiting Petroleum’s 217 Pronghorn oil wells produced 558,412 barrels or 18,613 barrels per day. These wells generated $48,400 in extraction taxes per day (at $40 per barrel). At that rate, the extraction tax pays off the Wilson M. Laird Core and Sample Library expansion project in 280 days. 

From an OXY USA report in the Manning oil field, general area of Whiting's Pronghorn prospect:


August 13, 2015: the Pronghorn Federal wells are tracked here.

August 8, 2012:
  • 20079, 2,760, Whiting, Obrigewitch 21-16TFH, Bell, t2/12; cum 117K 6/12; 
June 5, 2012: this is what I wrote in reply to a comment elsewhere:
1. For others who are following this discussion, the presentation referenced above is found at this site:; presentation GI-136 at the link. 
2. Remember, I am an amateur at all this. The third map over, on the linked presentation above, certainly seems relevant to the area under discussion.

3. I think this is developing faster than even Whiting expected. Remember, the Pronghorn Prospect was carved out of the Lewis&Clark. In Whiting's most recent corporate presentation (which I linked today), this is the first time that Whiting has publicly separated the Lewis&Clark from the Pronghorn Prospect on their corporate presentation.

4. I agree with you; the proposed pipeline (south of the interstate) suggests Whiting is looking a lot farther south than first suggested (and I posted that thought earlier today).

5. I have listed the oil fields that I think are in the Whiting Pronghorn Prospect, and have asked for help in clarifying; to date no one has contradicted what I've posted. The post is here:

6. Whiting will help us out with this. They are designating their wells that are targeting the Pronghorn Sand with a "PH" designation.

7. Right now, I consider any Whiting well twelve miles north or twelve miles south of the area between Dickinson/Belfield (and inclusive) as part of their Pronghorn Prospect unless evidence to the contrary.

8. In Whiting's current corporate presentation, the first one in which they separate the Pronghorn from the L&C (

  • Sanish/Parshall: 83,000 net acres for Whiting
  • Pronghorn Prospect: 121,402 net acres for Whiting
  • Lewis & Clark Prospect: 128,370 net acres for Whiting
May 28, 2012: see first comment on naming the Pronghorn formation.

May 24, 2012: Prior to the Bismarck Bakken conference, CLR estimated 24 billion bbls recoverable oil from the Bakken Pool (Bakken formations and Three Forks formations). On the last day of the conference, Harold Hamm said this
[CLR] now believes there is as much as 27 billion to 45 billion barrels of oil recoverable from the Bakken based on production from two previously untapped bench zones in the resource.
The article went on immediately to talk about the Pronghorn Sand, so was one of the "two previously untapped bench zones," the Pronghorn Sand? If so, what is the second zone he was talking about? The second bench of the Three Forks? Most likely.  I wonder if the "original" Three Forks wells are all considered "first bench" wells?

Sorting this out, I wonder if CLR suggested 24 billion bbls with original middle Bakken and Three Forks; raised it to 27 billion with the second bench; and then to 45 billion with the Pronghorn Sand. The delta would be approximately 18 billion for the Pronghorn Sand which seems reasonable (as a percent) based on the geographic size (surface area) of the Pronghorn Sand. But, it is way to early to guess based on the little public information. 

May 10, 2012: Whiting's 1Q12 corporate presentation: 121,403 net acres in the Pronghorn prospect.

February 7, 2012, WLL's corporate presentation: in the Lewis & Clark: no Bakken; thin Pronghorn Sand; mostly Three Forks; Pronghorn prospect: thick Pronghorn -- 35 feet; no Bakken. 

November 25, 2011: I may be slow, but at least I eventually catch on. It just dawned on me. I could be wrong, but Whiting was perhaps one of the earliest to designate their Three Forks Sanish horizontals with the "TF" before the "H" yielding TFH.  With the "P" lettering preceding the "H" they obviously want to identify this formation.Technically, the "Pronghorn Sand"  is part of the upper Three Forks and the company could have simply stayed with the TFH designation . Separating this out, suggests to me the CEO feels strongly that the Pronghorn Sand will be different enough from the TF that it required its unique designation. The question, now, is whether CLR will differentiate the four (4) benches on the "bottom" side of the Three Forks formation.

See comment from Mary -- my hunch that it stood for "Pronghorn" was correct, but I was sure on shaky ground on that. It's very interesting that they would put "prospect" designations there. A big thank you to Mary for researching this and posting it. 

Pronghorn Well Completions

May 10, 2012: More Pronghorn results here.
From the slides: Pronghorn 4Q11 Completions, in BOEPD
  • 20131, 1,645, Pronghorn Federal 34-11TFH, Park oil field;
  • 20404, 1,849, Pronghorn Federal 21-14TFH, Park oil field;
  • 20124, 889, Brueni 21-16TFH, New Hradec;
  • 20893, 3,218, Mastel 41-18TFH, Bell;
  • 21483, 2,694, Marsh 21-16TFH-R, Dutch Henry Butte,
  • 21018, 1,740, Obrigewitch 11-17TFH, Bell
  • 20504, 3,225, Pronghorn Federal 21-13TFH, Park
  • Pronghorn average: 2,184

Pronghorn Sand/Bakken Formation

Note: all references to the Pronghorn Sand as being part of the Three Forks formation should be updated; it was correct when it was first blogged. However, in its February 7, 2012, presentation, Whiting said that the Pronghorn Sand is part of the Bakken formation. 

Sometime in 2011, Whiting started referring to a new prospect as the Pronghorn prospect, a bit southeast of their Lewis & Clark prospect in southwestern North Dakota. Over time, a bit more information trickled out, and now, based on a recent Whiting corporate presentation, it appears there is a new formation at least in some parts of the Bakken: the Pronghorn Sand, an upper formation which is just below the Bakken. See slide 16 of Whiting's November, 2011, presentation (unfortunately those presentations will change over time, and this slide may be "lost").

The Pronghorn Sand is thick and prospective in three Whiting areas: a) Pronghorn Prospect; b) Big Stick in the Lewis & Clark Prospect; O'Neil Creek in the Lewis & Clark Prospect; and, c) the Elkhorn Ranch area of the Lewis & Clark Prospect.

The graphic reveals that in Whiting's Tarpon prospect there is the well-understood middle Bakken, lower Bakken, and Three Forks formations. Whiting is presently drilling into both the middle Bakken and the Three Forks in their Tarpon prospect. [Note: Whiting is drilling into B Zone of the middle Bakken in the Sanish; the C Zone of the middle Bakken in prospects south of the Sanish; and into the Pronghorn Sands farther southwest.]

In their Lewis & Clark prospect, the middle Bakken thins out to be almost negligible, but the Three Forks remains fairly thick (about the same as elsewhere in the Williston Basin). Interestingly enough, the Pronghorn Sands just begins to show up in the Lewis & Clark, and although not very thick, is thick enough to be drilled.

In the Pronghorn prospect, the middle Bakken becomes very thin. The Three Forks remains the same, but here the Pronghorn Sand is very thick and the target for Whiting drilling.

These are the oil fields inside Whiting's Pronghorn Prospect (my best guess; will be updated as new information flows), but consider the area between Dickinson and Belfield, especially north of the interstate as the area of the Pronghorn Prospect:

Pronghorn Prospect, north of I-94, between Dickinson and Belfield
  • Whiskey Joe -- nw of Park, Park west of Bell
  • Bell -- north of Belfield
  • Park -- east of Bell
  • North Creek -- between Bell and New Hradec
  • New Hradec -- east of Bell, ne of Zenith
  • Dutch Henry Butte -- east of New Hradec
  • Green River -- east of Belfield, north of Zenith, north of I-94; west of Dickinson
Pronghorn Prospect, south of I-94, west of Dickinson
  • South Heart -- south of Dutch Henry Butte -- south of I-94; west of Dickinson
  • Zenith -- south of Bell, east of Belfield; west of South Heart; south of I-94; west of Dickinson
  • Gaylord -- south of Belfield; south of the interstate; west of Zenith
  • Fryburg -- sw of  Belfield; west of Gaylord
  • Davis Creek -- sw of Belfield; south of Fryburg; southwest of Gaylord oil field
Original Post
I'm usually not this stumped (I may not know what's going on, but at least I can make something up or come up with an idea) but in this case, I have absolutely no idea.

A reader sent me this:
Noticed Whiting well Kubas 34-12PH on the drilling list as the next location after SOLBERG 34-12TFH. They seem to be at the same location. I haven't seen the PH designation before. Any idea what it means? 
It's not a typo. Permit number 21895 in the Bell oil field is named the Kubas 34-12PH. I can't believe the "P" stands for "Pronghorn" prospect, but that's all I can think of. The only formations in this area: Bakken, Three Forks, Lodgepole, and Tyler.

So, if anyone knows what the "P" stands for there are at least two folks who would be interested.


  1. "Actually the North Dakota Geological Survey instigated a change in the formation naming convention last year.

    The Pronghorn sand is also known as the Sanish sand, which is the pay zone in the Antelope field of eastern McKenzie County, ND. That field produces on a faulted anticline which provided natural fracturing for the "Sanish sand" to be oil productive (1950s).

    Since the Middle Bakken drilling boom, there has been confusion since WLL has an area in western Mountrail County that they call "Sanish", a field designation NOT the producing zone. Therefore, NDGS intends to officially change the designation of that uppermost sandstone/siltsone, just on top of the Three Forks formation and immediately underlying the Lower Bakken shale, to Pronghorn formation.

    And there you have it.

    The Pronghorn is sourced by the immediately overlying Lower Bakken shale where they are in proximity." Jeremy

  2. Hello sir. Hope all is well for you. Sorry, if you already posted on this. There has been some updates to the orginial presentation on the Pronghorn., the presentation of 11/19/2012 Pronghorn. I find it interesting on page 23 they use the well on my brothers land DRS 24, to state geology matters. Take care. Jeremy

  3. How interesting. No, I don't recall posting this. I don't always post updated corporate presentations; just too much "stuff" to post.

    It's been my impression that the Pronghorn is still "hit and miss." In general I have not been as impressed as I thought I would be based on the high prices paid for the leases. However, there are some good Pronghorn wells. But the Pronghorn doesn't seem, yet, comparable to what Whiting is doing in the Sanish. It will be interesting to follow.