Sunday, May 27, 2012

When Did They Know? and, What Did They Know?

Back in April, 2011, I posted a story about the record bonuses being paid for leases in the Belfield, North Dakota, area. At the time, I opined it was the Tyler they were interested in along with the Three Forks. At the time state officials were talking about the huge number of rigs that would eventually target the Tyler. Now those same officials and others are talking about 500 wells between Belfield and Dickinson targeting another formation, along with the Three Forks formation.

We now know about Whiting's Pronghorn Prospect in this area, and the Pronghorn Sand which could be the best payzone in the Bakken

One has to wonder whether the Whiting folks knew about the Pronghorn Sand back in April, 2011, when lease bonuses were setting records.  It takes awhile to put a "prospect" together, I would assume. Something tells me the Whiting folks knew they were sitting on something huge. It certainly explains the record amounts paid for the leases.


With no activity reports to review over the 3-day weekend, I had a bit of free time to study more closely the area between  Dickinson and Belfield, the area of Whiting's Pronghorn Prospect. I don't have any significant news, just idle chatter. It is amazing how many wells have been drilled and permits pending about 15 miles northwest of Dickinson where I first noted an interesting string of Whiting wells, and first blogged about them in January, 2011, almost a year-and-a-half-ago.  A lot has happened in the meantime. It now explains why Target Logistics wanted to place a man-camp in that area (the one that was denied by local officials and caught my attention). It now explains why there is talk of one of the largest (if not the largest) crew camps in North Dakota going up in the Dickinson area. It is interesting that MDU and Whiting have partnered on an oil and gas gathering system in the area. It suggests that the gathering system is going to be quite huge, considering that two major players have partnered.

Whiting's annual report mentioned that the company, in January, 2012, had completed a 7-mile oil pipeline connecting the Pronghorn Prospect with the Bridger Four Bears system. Regardless of whether they specifically knew this was a "new" formation, this suggests to me they knew they were sitting on something big.

I have said often that the center of activity for 2012 will be northeastern McKenzie (moving west from EOG's Parshall field and Whiting's Sanish field). But in 2013, the center of activity is going to be the area between Belfield and Dickinson. It is simply amazing to watch this all develop.


  1. Whiting now uses Pronghorn Field.

    A year ago it was just land included in the Lewis and Clark Prospect. Then it became a sub-prospect (Lewis and Clark/Pronghorn). Now it is the Pronghorn Field.

    Looking at a Whiting presentation of its pipelines (existing and planned)this new field is bigger and goes further south than what was described just a few months ago as the Pronghorn Prospect.

    1. You are correct; I had missed that. It's on slide 22 of the May, 2012, Whiting corporate presentation.

      For newbies, this is not a new NDIC-named field. There is already a Pronghorn Field in the Williston Basin and it is not in this area.

      In addition, the area described on this slide incorporates many NDIC-designated fields. I will continue to call it their Pronghorn Prospect so as not to cause confusion, at least for awhile, until this is sorted out. Newbies coming to the NDIC GIS map server and searching "Pronghorn Field" will not find the area we are describing between Belfield and Dickinson.

      And yes, you are correct; I had not paid attention: the Pronghorn Field/Prospect goes much farther south than I implied in my earlier posts. Much of it appears to be where there are no fields yet designated by the NDIC (going south of the interstate).

      Thank you for taking time to point this all out.

    2. This Pronghorn is very interesting. Makes you wonder what the future of the "Bakken" they continue to find new layers.

      I was thinking like you...this area was basically a Three Forks/Tyler type play and then this comes along.

      When you look at Whiting's map/presentation on the Pronghorn, it shows the current derisked area with a long sliver of non-derisked area thru it... between Dickinson and Belfield stretching for quite a few sections. Seems odd...any thoughts on why this would be left as non-derisked?....

      I hope the Pronghorn goes as far south as their overall prospect area shows...needs to get down to 138/99 to do us any good. :)

      I know that Chesapeake is struggling in southern Stark, but not sure what formation they are currently going after?...Mission Canyon?...I don't think it is the Pronghorn sands...

      Is there a map that you are aware of that shows the just the Pronghorn sands formation? they have for the Bakken or Tyler?

      You call yourself a layman, but I think your overall knowledge is growing to the point where an honerary degree someday will be inorder....keep it up!! I have learned TONS from this blog.

    3. Thank you for the kind words. I've learned a lot from my readers, and early on from the Bakken Shale Discussion Group. I'm sure the professional get a daily laugh from the blog ... smile. And I've told some of them in person, but they are very gracious. They don't reply.

      I can't answer any of your questions at the moment, I'm sorry. I am not aware of a map yet that shows the Pronghorn Sand, but that's a very, very good question. Something tells me the oil companies involved are trying to find it's extent.

      I agree with you with regard to Chesapeake; I would be surprised if their current wells are targeting Pronghorn Sand; I suppose that could change.

      The issue of derisking. I assume there are fairly strict guidelines/rules about declaring a area as derisked. Whiting may feel pretty comfortable about what they have but to formally declare it derisked they have to have the data (which they will get from their wells).

      You know, 138/99 is very, very close to the action, unless I'm misreading the map. Both Gaylord and Zenith oil fields share their southern border with 138/99. Just a matter of time.

    4. Hey Bruce, thanks for updating the Pronghorn page as I had requested! Thanks for all the updates, Pronghorn is exciting, can't wait to see how it keeps evolving over the next few years. Hope you had a nice weekend! Jeremy

    5. You are welcome. I am very, very exciting to see this play out. I don't have any "dog in this fight" -- no mineral rights, e.g. -- but I still get a kick watching this unfold.

      Hindsight is 20/20 but it certainly is interesting to look at the dots (events) that have occurred in this area the past 18 months and then to learn about the Pronghorn Sand. In the big scheme of things, very few people really understand the Bakken, and even fewer have even heard of the Pronghorn Sand.