I think that a big question remains in regards to the Bakken in Montana. Since the emphasis from the onset has been concentrated and still is on the North Dakota area, it will be a couple of years, at the least, before enough drilling has been conducted in this Eastern Montana area to really grasp the quality of the area. We all know the Bakken/Three Forks is present but we have yet to know the extent of these formations. Over the next five to six years, most of this Montana area (Richland, Roosevelt and Sheridan Counties) should be drilled. The problem that currently exists is that numerous leases are expiring this year and next and the cost to negotiate new leases will be much greater than earlier lease negotiations. The mineral owners should benefit greatly from this matter.
I don't follow the Montana (Williston Basin) Bakken closely enough to comment.The tea leaves, based on the first few weeks of 2013 permits, suggest that most of the drilling is going to be in the areas where drillers are assured good wells. KOG and CLR seem to be leading the charge with 10 - 14 wells being sited in one section. That's based on just a few weeks of new permits so it's probably too early to tell. But if the trend continues, looking back on 2013, this could be the year operators truly start multi-well pad drilling to an extent we haven't yet seen.You've probably noticed that rig count has gradually risen from a low of 179 to 185 in North Dakota, reversing a downward. I don't know if some rigs in Montana are coming back into ND, or whether the entire Bakken (ND and MT) has more rigs.Finally, I don't know the "business climate" of Montana. That is, I don't know which state offers the best incentives to the operators, and/or if that even makes a difference. But I do see that ND is considering a tax break for those putting in natural gas pipelines.