November 10, 2013: Note: the information on this page may be inaccurate; it has not been updated, and I have not read it recently to see if there are any obvious changes/errors.
From an earlier post: how to identify "overlapping 2560-acre spacing units on the NDIC GIS map server:
UpdatesElsewhere, a reader asked this question: how can one tell where the overlapping spacing units are by using the GIS map server?
This is the best I can do. Go to the GIS map server. Zoom in so that you are looking at these fields: Twin Valley in the far northwest; Antelope in the far east/northeast; Reunion Bay in the far east/southeast; and, Elidah in the far southwest. At the legend on the right side, put a check mark in the square box opposite "2560 Acre"; a dot in the circle opposite "2560 Acre"; and, a check in the square box opposite "1280 Acre." You will see a portion of the GIS map server with lots of teal (greenish-blue) and a bit of purple. The teal is 1280-acre spacing; the purple is 2560-acre spacing.
The spacing units are lined with a white border (generally - almost always -- along section lines). The teal and the purple spacing units are "standard" spacing units. Now, lean back in your chair a bit, and look for "**1280** and/or **2560** on the GIS map server. Those represent "overlapping spacing units. The number (either a **1280** or a **2560** is placed at the "bottom" of the overlapping spacing unit.
So as an example: in Blue Buttes, 151N-95W, just along the south section line of sections 9 and 10, you will see **2560**. That means that sections 4,3, 9, and 10, is an overlapping spacing unit.
Disregard the numbers preceded by a "c" in this discussion. Numbers with a preceding "c" means that these spacing units are still being considered by an active case (hearing docket case).
September 25, 2014: wells sited in 2560-acre spacing units in such a way as to capture "orphaned" oil along section lines or 640- or 1280-acre spacing unit lines are often designated ULW: unit line wells.
April 1, 2013: An excellent, excellent explanation over at The Bakken Shale Discussion Group. A must-read. There is one nuance that I had not thought of. It is true that each well has its own spacing unit defined by the permit. However, a producing well in any particular spacing unit holds that lease/that entire spacing unit by production, if that makes sense. That raises another question which is too hard to articulate and it really beyond what this blog is all about anyway, so I will defer for now, hoping that it is answered elsewhere. I have to agree with Teegue, that if each well has its own spacing unit defined by the permit, then a permit should pertain to one well and only one well, and should not be used to effectively unitize a spacing unit, again, if that makes sense. It has taken awhile, but I finally understand what Teegue has been saying on this issue all these years, and I agree with him in principle from a mineral owner's point of view. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I can also see the operator's side of the story. But Teegue is correct: it seems a decision was made on how to develop the Bakken on the fly without really understanding all the nuances. This is entirely an opinion. Don't take it for more than that. Simply an opinion.
I had planned on waiting to write about overlapping 2560-acre spacing unit the Bakken when I had more time, but I see a lot of folks don't understand the reason behind these units.
Much will be written about overlapping 2560-acre spacing units, but for a quick explanation:
1. Vertical wells, the vertical segments of horizontal wells, and horizontal laterals are required to be "set back" from spacing unit lines (generally section lines in the North Dakota Bakken) by about 500 feet.
2. If all wells and horizontal laterals are "set back" from spacing lines / section lines, a lot of Bakken oil is being missed, left behind, "orphaned." (More on that later. That in itself is very, very interesting; something that MDW has blogged about several times, and something few other sites talk about.)
3. The purpose of overlapping 2560-acre spacing units is to allow an operator to site a well/a horizontal lateral in such a location to access the Bakken Pool along spacing unit lines/section lines that would otherwise be missed.
4. Imagine a horizontal lateral running parallel to a section line five hundred feet away on the east side. Now imagine another horizontal lateral running parallel to that same section line five hundred feet away on the west side. One can immediately see one-thousand feet of Bakken without a horizontal lateral. An operator who is approved an overlapping 2560-acre spacing unit, can now run a horizontal lateral right down the middle of that section line. If one looks at the GIS server map at the NDIC web site, one will see why overlapping 2560-acre spacing units are needed, rather than overlapping 1280-acre spacing units.
This is from the March NDIC dockets:
- 19796, Hess, amend Manitou-Bakken and Big Butte-Bakken; establish two overlapping 2560-acre units; 1 or more wells on each; Mountrail
- 19797, Hess, amend Truax-Bakken, establish 6 overlapping 2560-acre units; one or more wells; Willliams, McKenzie
- 19798, Hess, amend Westberg-Bakken, establish an overlapping 2560-acre unit, one or more wells; McKenzie
- 19799, Hess, amend Hawkeye-Bakken, establish an overlapping 2560-acre unit, one or more wells; McKenzie
- 19800, Hess, amend Hawkeye-Bakken, establish two overlapping 2560-acre units, one or more wells; McKenzie
- 19801, Hess, amend Blue Buttes-Bakken, establish an overlapping 2560-acre unit, one or more wells; McKenzie
- 19802, Hess, amend Timber Creek-Bakken and South Tobacco Garden-Bakken to establish an overlapping 2560-acre unit, one or more wells; McKenzie
- 19803, Hess, amend Cherry Creek-Bakken to establish two overlapping 2560-acre units; one or more wells; McKenzie
Hess also submitted applications asking NDIC to establish overlapping 2,560-acre spacing units, and is seeking 16 such units in McKenzie, Mountrail and Williams counties. Hess wants to drill one or more horizontal wells between existing 1,280-acre units. The new overlapping 2,560-acre units are in the Manitou, Big Butte, Truax, Westberg, Hawkeye, Blue Buttes, Timber Creek, South Tobacco Garden and Cherry Creek-Bakken pools.The specifics, i.e., which fields or where the overlapping 2560-acre spacing units will be, really do not matter: the bottom line is that we will be seeing overlapping 2560-acre spacing units throughout the Bakken for the purpose of capturing otherwise "orphaned" oil along spacing unit lines, generally section lines in Bakken spacing.
By the way, these overlapping 2560-acre spacing units are nothing new. They have been on the NDIC dockets since at least March, 2012, and the MDW has posted them all. Prior to overlapping 2560-acre spacing units, there were 1280-acre spacing units.
It's kind of surprising that Petroleum News thinks these are a big deal. It would be much more helpful to explain "theory" behind these overlapping units.
Astute readers will also notice something else occurring in the Bakken but I will leave that to a future post. Actually two things. One has to do with the location (the fields) where these overlapping units are; one has to do with Whiting and its Pronghorn prospect.
By the way, "overlapping 2560-acre spacing units" should not be confused with "2560-acre spacing units." Their purposes and locations are different.
At this site (also linked above, I believe), a contributor says the overlapping 2560-acre spacing units are being sought by operators to increase the number of wells on a multi-well pad. If maximum length of horizontals remains at 10,000 feet (two sections), I don't see how overlapping 2560-acre spacing makes any difference for laydown or standup spacing units, vs 1280-acre spacing units (but I may be missing something. I need an example). I can maybe see a case where a 2x2 2560-acre spacing unit would be preferred in some cases to increase the density of wells on a single pad, but those cases seem few and far between. I can possibly see them along and under the river. But again, I may be missing something.