Friday, December 30, 2016

Worker Shortage Looming In The Bakken? -- December 30, 2016


Later, 8:30 p.m. Central Time: see first comment. I corrected the original post to reflect the first comment regarding water used for fracking. Huge "thank you" to the reader for the comment.Wow, I hate it when I make a stupid error like that. I should have known.

Original Post
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2016: worker shortage looming in the Bakken.

Today, from The Jamestown Sun (so it might be somewhat of a repeat of an earlier story but its byline is Williston, ND, and the writer is April Baumgarten, so there might be a few new data points of interest):
  • Job Service North Dakota announced six (6) oil companies are looking for workers to man fracking crews
  • 45  - 65 workers per crew; low end: 300 hires
  • recent job posting are mostly for service or workover rigs
  • almost 500 jobs posted at the Job Service site mentioned oil
  • November's increase from October:
    • Stark County: an increase of 140
    • Williams County: an increase of 50
  • December numbers are expected to come out Wednesday (January 4, 2017?)
For newbies, it doesn't take long to frack a well. In my simple way of thinking there are three elements: a) getting sand and water (see first comment) pre-positioned; b) getting the pumping units pre-positioned; and, c) the actual fracking.

Getting sand and water pre-positioned will take the most time but it can be done in anticipation of actual fracking. Fracking spreads are not sitting around waiting to frack. They will frack wells while sand is being delivered to other pads. What pre-positioning requires is lots and lots of trucks. It takes 2,000 (or 4,000, I forget) truck trips for each frack. Something like that. A lot. (With high intensity fracks, more truck-trips might be needed for all that sand.)

In the old days (before pad drilling) it was a time-intensive to move pumping units from well to well. Now fracking spreads have two, three, four, or more wells on one pad that can all be fracked before moving to the next pad. Just one of the huge advantages of pad drilling.

The actual fracking takes very little time, measured in days. I assume an average of about three to six days, total.

I don't know but if pre-positioning works, they might even be able to do significant fracking during spring thaw when historically road weight restrictions are put in place, but now I'm way beyond my comfort zone.

Back-of-the-envelope: this does not include the fracking spreads already working in the Bakken:
  • six new fracking spreads, two wells/week/spread
    • twelve wells/week for these six fracking spreads
    • March to November, nine months = 36 weeks
    • 36 weeks x 12 wells = 400 wells
  • currently about 45 wells are coming off the confidential list each month
    • March to November, 45 x 9 = 400 new wells
  • current number of DUCs, about 800


  1. Your overall assessment is pretty accurate. I haven't seen a Frac in recent years where the freshwater is trucked in though, it all gets pumped from the source through miles of 12' plastic pipe and rubber hose. They days of big money made hauling freshwater to a Frac are gone as near as I can tell.

    1. Thank you. I'll fix that (water). I remember all the pipelines carrying water for fracking -- even a photo on one of the posts a couple of years ago, and in my last several visits to the Bakken, I never saw a water truck. Completely forgot about that; thank you for the reminder.