Monday, April 9, 2012

Filloon: Three Forks -- Great Potential -- The Bakken, North Dakota, USA --

Note: the "Three Forks" is a formation just below the Bakken formation. The Bakken formation is further divided into the upper, middle, and lower Bakken.  In 2011, operators started talking about four benches "below" the Three Forks.  The Bakken formations and the Three Forks formations are part of the Bakken Pool. The "Sanish" or the "Three Forks Sanish" is a specific part of the Three Forks found in western Mountrail county, where the Sanish oil field is located. 

Over time operators are becoming more consistent when referring to the various Three Forks formations. The "legacy" upper Three Forks formation is TF1; the second bench is TF2; the third bench is TF3; and, the lowest bench is TF4. As of 2014, TF4 has not been tested widely. 


January 25, 2018: a geologic update of the middle- to lower-Three Forks, ND geologic survey. A must-read.

September 26, 2013: Three Forks wells in northeastern McKenzie County five times better than middle Bakken wells -- Lynn Helms

June 23, 2013: the 2013 USGS Survey -- The Three Forks

May 24, 2010: Source Rock for the TFS

January 6, 2010: Continental Resources (CLR) reports six wells that targeted the TFS; excellent results.

Original Post

Link at here.

The article is very detailed and I won't go through it now. Maybe later for future reference.

Suffice to say:
Filloon: The Three Forks could be a bigger story than the middle Bakken. At its thickest point it is 270 feet thick, compared to the middle Bakken at 90 feet.
Yup. See an earlier (November, 2011) post here

Something tells me ONEOK did the math.


This is from Mike's article linked above. I am providing bare details. Go to the link for the full story.

Data points:

Upper Bench
  • the Three Forks is commercial throughout a good portion of the Williston Basin
  • the thinnest portion of the upper Three Forks is in the northwest portion of the Williston Basin in Montana; it thickens significantly to the east and south
  • the further north in Williams County, the thinner the upper Three forks
  • a notable well: Magnum Hunter's Thomte, just a few miles from the Canadian border
  • in McKenzie County, Three Forks seems thicker in the south and east
  • gets thicker into northern Billings and western Stark counties
  • extends into South Dakota
Second Bench
  • Continental Resources testing the second bench
  • of the few wells drilled so far into the second bench, it appears that bench is consistent throughout the Basin
  • if the second bench is like the first, an additional four wells/pad possible
  • Hess has planned its first 12-well pad, and an additional 6 locations could be possible with the second bench --> 36-acre spacing without wells in the third or fourth bench


  1. Bruce whats your thoughts on the interplay between the bakken and niobrara. I am a landowner near Belle Fourche, SD and may be attending the Black Hills bakken conference. I been watching oil news in the MT, WY, ND, and SD region. I looked up production near Buffalo, SD and a couple of wells are about 400 bopd maintained over several years.

    1. I'm not a good person to ask about the Niobrara, nor many other fields/basins for that matter. I really only follow the Bakken.

      However, having said that, the Niobrara will eventually be a good play, but it will take awhile. The reason the Bakken took off was because of all the work that had been done before the boom. The oil companies have been studying the Williston Basin for more than 60 years, and every core sample had to be sent to University of North Dakota. North Dakota boasts the world's largest microseismic array (linked at the right) so when the technology came around, the Bakken was primed, as it were.

      There were a number of oil companies that were early into the Niobrara, and one of them, I forget which, admitted they were early, and got out for the time being. American Oil and Gas (AES) since bought out by Hess (?) did the same thing. Sold all their Niobrara and went all into the Bakken before selling out.

      So, for those with a longer time horizon, now is the time to invest in companies in the Niobrara.

      My hunch is that companies in the Bakken and Eagle Ford will do best.

  2. Do you think anything will start back up in bowman county has been a little slow for the last few years just got 1 rig now

    1. Absolutely.

      Some venture capitalist is going to be approached by some young oil men who will show them:

      File number 2962; IP=180, Denbury, Cedar Creek Unit 8B 14-11A-10; spud 1961, and then again in 2002; still producing; cumulative of 420,000 bbls -- Ordovician Pool. As good as any Bakken well and a lot less expensive to put in.

      Just a matter of time before a young oil man convinces a venture capitalist to support his hunches in North Dakota.

    2. Hey Bruce, check out file number 5269. Not to far from the well you mentioned above. Not too shabby for a Red River well.

    3. Not too shabby even if it was a Bakken well; nearly 1 million bbls. It deserved its own stand-alone post (done) and it was the first Red River well on the "Monster Well" list.

      Thank you.

  3. Thanks be interesting to see what happens

    1. Hey Bruce: What have you heard lately about the Pronghorn Prospect in the Three Forks formation?

      I believe that they are going to start drilling on my section 31 in the next couple of months. Thank you for your help, this is my first time on this site.

    2. The Pronghorn Prospect is going to be spectacular.

      Whiting will be targeting two payzones in the Pronghorn Prospect, the Three Forks and the Pronghorn Sand.

      Explore this site for awhile; use search applications. Check out the information at the sidebar at the right. The daily posts are good, but it's the information at the sidebar that is most useful.

      The fist thing you should do is get the file number and the name of the well that you are interested in. I don't know if I'm missing something or if I should be able to figure it out, but "section 31" without knowing township and range is not enough.

      The Lewis & Clark prospect just to the northeast of the Pronghorn Prospect is very, very exciting. The wells in the Lewis & Clark may be as good as Whiting's wells in the Sanish, and the Lewis & Clark is 3.5 x larger than the Sanish.