A reader sent me this link from the April 2, 2012, edition of the Oil and Gas Journal which explores the maximum production rate of the Bakken.
I don't recall seeing this article, and if I did, I don't recall posting/linking it.
It's a very good article. These are the kinds of links that "break early and break often" so you may want to look at it now before the link breaks.
This is an inconvenient truth, something some readers have reminded me:
The significance of well saturation is the effect on average well production rates. When well saturation occurs, new well drainage areas and new well production rates decrease. This in turn creates an increase in the number of additional wells required to maintain a given production level. At some point, the treadmill created by monthly well production declines is moving too fast for the economics of new well development to keep pace and field production begins to decline.The linked article makes this interesting observation:
For continuous shale oil fields such as the North Dakota Bakken, the decline rate may not be as steep as those experienced in conventional reservoir oil fields. Upon well saturation of the development area with four wells/sq mile, E&P companies will continue to perform well refracs and drill infill wells as long as well economics are positive.And concludes with this:
In conclusion, the findings suggest that the North Dakota Bakken has the potential to realize an oil production rate of 1.5 million b/d even if the average well production rate is reduced by 25% and the well development area is reduced by 10%. A 2 million b/d oil production rate may be achievable if the well development area is 12,000 sq miles and the average EUR of 500,000 bbl/well holds for the total well development area.So, we'll see.
The North Dakota Bakken will very likely surpass Prudhoe Bay as the nation's largest oil field. This is a major development for US oil production since as recently as 2008 the US Geological Survey placed the Bakken's technically recoverable oil resource base at about 4 billion bbl.
Note: search the blog for "Red Queen." Here is a particularly relevant "Red Queen" post.