Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Staggering; Just Some Bakken Back-Of-The-Envelope Doodling

Note: see first comment. The reader correctly points out that I often forget to distinguish between "barrels of oil" vs "barrels of oil equivalent" when talking about EURs, IPs, etc. I'll try to do better but it is very difficult when analysts themselves often don't make it clear what they are referring to. I'm not even sure if the original Leigh Price paper differentiated "oil" vs "oil equivalent." The same goes for the price of oil -- the source of oil (WTI, Brent, Saudi) is often not provided, just assumed. 

Disclaimer: this post is a good example of my difficulty expressing my thoughts. The post is a bit disjointed, but hopefully you will get the point.  

Just some doodling on the back of the proverbial envelopes.

One needs to go back to the very early days of blogging to remember how big the Bakken was. I've actually forgotten the numbers; there was a quite a range between what the USGS said, what Harold Hamm said, and what others said, somewhere in between.

A couple of data points.

In general, the operators told us they were recovering 1 - 5% of the original oil in place through primary recovery. Early on, it was said that operators were recovering somewhere between 1 and 3% of the OOIP. Then, it was said that they were getting as much as 5%. Then in one of Whiting's presentations, or conference calls, it was said that some wells were recovering as much as 8%. Hold that thought.

CLR says the average Bakken well will have a EUR of 603,000 bbls. [EUR is "estimated ultimate recovery" -- the total amount of oil that a Bakken will produce over its lifetime.] Hold that thought, too.

Then, in a story yesterday, some analyst suggested the average EUR of all Eagle Ford wells drilled between 2008 and 2013 was 168,000 bbls.

With regard to the Bakken, Halcon did not take exception to CLR's estimate of 603,000 bbls. In its 1Q14 conference call, Halcon said: a) EURs of 801,000 bbls in their better acreage (Fort Berthold); and, b) 447,000 bbls in Williams County.

I was thinking about all that, when I re-read this observation at another post:
... every 1% in incremental recovery factor translates into an additional nine billion barrels of estimated ultimate recoverable reserves in the field ...
What exactly is 9 billion bbls compared to the current EURs?

Some folks suggest the minimum number of wells that will be drilled in the North Dakota Bakken will be on the order of 50,000 wells. Others say as many as twice that number.

But let's go with 50,000 wells.

If operators were able to increase the recovery rate another 1%, or 9 billion bbls, then consider this:
9,000,000,000 divided by 50,000 wells = 180,000 bbls
That 180,000 bbls increase in EUR exceeds the current EURs of the Eagle Ford. That 180,000 is on top of the 477,000 bbls EURs (Williams County/Halcon); 603,000 bbls EURs (Bakken/Continental Resources); and/or, 801,000 bbls EURs (Fort Berthold/Halcon).

I don't know about others, but I find these numbers simply staggering.


  1. Be careful using industry EURs since they are almost universally presented in terms of barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) and not barrels of oil exclusively. With regard to the Bakken, the most common assumption is that 15-20% of the EUR, when expressed in terms of BOE, will be made up of natural gas.

    1. Thank you. Yes, I do have a habit of forgetting these details. I used to make a huge mistake of posting industry IPs (which were often "boe") and then being surprised when I saw the NDIC ticket with a much, much smaller IP (which was just oil).

      Unfortunately, even the analysts often aren't clear on whether they are talking oil only or "boe."

      Thank you for taking time to remind me.