Sunday, January 6, 2013

Burke County May Be The Edge of The Bakken to the Northeast -- January 6, 2013

A reader alerted me to the story.

Burke County is a fairly huge county. Bowbells, the city prominently featured in the linked story, is in the northeast quadrant of Burke County.

The Director, NDIC, hinted that one operator had acquired a fair amount of acreage in Burke County and might be preparing to "give it back." Three operators come to mind: CLR, Oasis, and OXY. The Director mentions Hess and MRO doing some work in Burke County suggesting that Burke County might be at the edge of the Bakken, but when one does a "well search" one does not see a huge presence of Hess or MRO wells in Burke County.

Of the other other three operators (CLR, Oasis, and OXY), OXY has a huge presence in Dimond oil field. This has always been an unimpressive field but I thought it was due more to OXY's fracking results than the geology. It looks like it was the geology, according to Lynn Helms.

Oasis has a large presence in Cottonwood oil field in Burke County; it's not a great field, but it's not terribly bad. Cottonwood field is closer to the better Bakken, whereas Dimond oil field is significantly farther away.

Again, "well search" doesn't result in many CLR wells in Burke County. And when you look at Filloon's CLR map one doesn't see much CLR acreage in Burke County though the size of the map makes it somewhat difficult to tell for sure.

Putting all this together, if I were a betting man, and I'm not, except for an occasional hamburger, I would bet the OXY USA is ready to give back some of its Burke County acreage.

So, we'll see.

Just one problem. This was the quote from the story:
“One larger operator took a fairly big position in northeast Burke County,” said Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources.
“It’s been disappointing.
“Now they’re thinking they may let some leases go.”
Dimond field is east of the Cottonwood, and Dimond field is more east-central Burke County, and not northeast Burke County, as Lynn Helms said. But the problem is that northeast of Dimond field there is not enough public information known (or at least known by me) to figure out what other operator might have leases in northeastern Burke County. Despite this, I will stick with OXY.


  1. Replies
    1. I am not aware of Chesapeake in this part of North Dakota, but I certainly wouldn't know. I associate Chesapeake in the Dickinson area and southwest North Dakota. But I certainly could be wrong.

  2. I have access to the NDRIN Document Search Page (it allows you to search Public Records in North Dakota) and it looks like HESS wsa Grantee on 28 assignment of leases/sales, Continental has 17. Oasis has 55. and Oxy has 22. Looks like it is Oasis w/the most.

    1. Thank you. Yes, it's a real toss-up between Oasis and OXY.

      OXY has been less successful in the Bakken overall, and in an earnings conference call some time ago had suggested they were going to cutback in the Bakken, that and there Dimond field make me think it will be OXY.

      On the other hand, Oasis could use the cash they would get (even if a small amount) selling their Burke County leases; they have much better acreage elsewhere.

      Thank you for sending some real data to look at. Much appreciated.

  3. My Great grandmother's family owns the mineral rights to 2600 acres in the powers lake, Burke County area (the southwest corner of Burke county) Is there any drilling or promising surveying in this general area? It seems that everyone zeroed in on Williston. Is the Bakken much thicker in Burke county? Williston is obviously more densely populated than burke county, but the Bakken formation is large.

    1. After a promising start in this area, things have really cooled off. I had great hopes for the Cottonwood field which is east of Powers Lake (and part of Powers Lake is inside the Cottonwood field) but it did not pan out.

      It is interesting to see so many early SM Energy permits now canceled.

      But you are correct; it is the southwest corner of Burke County where the activity seems to be. There are two rigs northwest of Powers Lake, both in Burke County; one about 10 miles northwest; the other about 7 miles northwest.

    2. Thanks for the information and quick reply Bruce..... I will keep posted to your site

    3. I apologize for being so abrupt in my answer. I was distracted (pleasantly) by my granddaughters.

      Although I didn't say this in the original post, I was thinking it: I still think the southwest half of Burke county (if a diagonal line was drawn from northwest to southeast corner) will eventually get drilled.

      Right now, operators are trying to trim costs and improve cash flow, and thus the emphasis on the "better" Bakken. But I still think the southwest half of Burke County will be drilled.

  4. Thanks Bruce for the Southwest , Burke County Update. I'm glad i found your site for information. I've been trying to read as much as possible on the Bakken. I noticed the Nesson Anticline on several maps. I tried to research it but only found land surveys that were in geologist language and very difficult to understand. Any info or references you have on this and Oil updates are much appreciated. I'm glad i found your article and i look forward to following this site.
    - Ben

    1. 1. Go this link at wiki:

      At the link read the first paragraph and look at the top picture.

      Then scroll down to "economic significance" and read that paragraph and the accompanying graphic.

      2. Oilmen look for these "anticlines" because there is a good chance that oil accumulated there. When I first started following the Bakken, I was confused by that term also, but then realized that it was shorthand for "hey, oil is located here" OR "hey, oil might be located here."

      3. Then, go to this link and you will note there are many anticlines identified in North Dakota:

      4. The term "anticline" comes down to this for me: a) for geologists it explains why oil is where it is and where to look for it; b) for non-geologists it is simply a geographic location on a map, often designating where there has been significant oil production.

      5. The second link above, the "" geology link looks daunting at first, but it can be made easier to follow by doing this: a) study the graphics; just scroll up and down looking at the graphics; don't spend too much time on any one graphic; b) then go back and look at the graphics that show where wells have been drilled into various formations; and, then, finally, c) go down about a third of the way "Structural Geology/Stratigraphy and Petroleum Characteristics, and scroll down, stopping at the formations that interest you. The article starts with the deepest formations and works up. You will quickly see some formations have multiple names.

    2. Thanks Bruce for that wealth of info. I will definitely look at those sites. Looking forward to your articles and updates. - Ben