Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Bakken: How Things Stand Near The End Of The Year, 2016 -- December 4, 2016

Sometime in 2014, I started losing interest in reviewing the quarterly presentations of the operators in the Bakken. Perhaps I wasn't losing interest. Better said, it was simply overwhelming. And quarter-to-quarter, and covering a dozen operators in the Bakken, the changes were staggering, but at the same time incremental, if that makes sense.

Yesterday, after a long hiatus I went back and looked at the most recent presentations by Whiting and Oasis. I will look at CLR later today and then update this post.


EURS. Staggering. See next "story" below the break, from Wood Mackenzie.

Both Whiting and Oasis consider 900,000 boe EURs the new norm, and are on track to go significantly higher, to 1.5 million boe EURs.

For newbies, this is a screen shot from an SM Energy presentation, five years ago. The Bear Den, in the Watford City area, is one of the best spots in the Bakken. At the end of 2011, EURs were 550,000 in the middle Bakken and 450,000 in the Three Forks (not otherwise specified; all assumed to be first bench). In five years, we've gone from 500,000 boe EURs to 1.5 million boe EURs:

Drilling times:
  • two huge changes since the beginning of the boom
    • the first change, of course, is the huge decrease in time it takes to drill a two-mile horizontal; at the beginning of the boom, 45 - 65 days. 
    • the second change: the way some operators are measuring drilling times. Whiting tracks the time from spud-to-spud: the clock starts ticking when the first well is spud, and continues to tick, until the rig is moved to the next well, and the next well is spud. Whiting has that spud-to-spud time down to 14 days or so in the Bakken; in the Niobrara, Whiting has it down to 7 days. In the old days it could take a week or so just to "tear down" rig once a well had been completed, load it on a truck, move it to the next location, and then set it up again. During the muddy season -- spring thaw -- roads were closed and rigs did not move. Now, even in the spring thaw, rigs can continue pad drilling if the pad is dry; fracking can wait
Cost per completed well:
  • costs have come way, way down, but there is a twist
    • some operators are "advertising" the costs to complete a DUC, in effect not providing the sunk costs in drilling the well to TD; costs to complete a DUC are in the range of $3.8 million; total costs are in the range of $6.8 million
  • I remember at the beginning of the boom, talking about $10 million wells -- and some of those were short laterals
Bragging rights, net acreage in the Williston Basin:
  • CLR: 860,000 net acres
  • Oasis: 540 net acres (once the SM Energy deal [55,000 acres] closes (scheduled to close December 1, 2016)
  • XTO: 494,000 net acres (website, December, 2016); 531,000 net acres  (June, 2015)
  • Whiting: 433,125 net acres
"You Can Enter The Bakken A Lot Cheaper Than You Can Enter The Permian -- Wood Mackenzie

From The Bakken, October 12, 2016, before the OPEC meeting:
Jonathan Garrett, the Bakken expert for Houston-based Wood Mackenzie, has a message for those who think the Permian Basin in Texas is the place to be. 
"The Permian has a lot of upside and the economics to support the interest, but for investors looking from a full-cycle basis, you can enter the Bakken a lot cheaper than you can enter the Permian," he said. "Some of the best parts of the Bakken rival some of the best parts of the Permian. That should at least pique the interest of folks looking outside of west Texas. Developing a portfolio in some of those core areas of the Bakken might make a lot of sense."
And then this (I like it when I see the words "humongous" and "Bakken" in the same paragraph).
Although the number of well completions in the Bakken have been steadily declining, the types of wells being drilled and completed has prevented production from dropping sharply. 
"We track completions in North Dakota closely and while the completion count has been anemic, the wells that are getting completed are absolutely humongous," Garrett noted. "Operators are completing wells that will produce upwards of a million-plus barrels from an EUR standpoint. A few years back, wells were being completed that produced half that."
COP Adding Rigs Sooner Than Expected In The Bakken

From The Bakken, November 2, 2016, before the OPEC meeting:
ConocoPhillips intends to add drilling rigs to the Bakken sooner than expected. Although the world’s large independent exploration and production company said earlier this year it planned to add rigs to its Bakken operations in 2017, the company unveiled plans this week to bring in three rigs before the end of the year. “We’ve already been able to secure drilling rigs and pressure pumping crews at attractive rates to maintain our low cost of supply, so we expect this incremental drilling work to start ramping in November,” said Al Hirshberg, executive vice president for drilling and projects.
The Red Queen

I can't wait to check the North Dakota crude oil production numbers next July, which we won't know until September, 2017, about ten months from now. In October, 2016, Lynn Helms suggested that North Dakota's crude oil production will bottom out at 900,000 bopd in June or July next year.

That statement was made before OPEC announced plans to cut/freeze oil production. On the day the October, 2016, Director's Cut, was released, it was reported that there were 33 active rigs in North Dakota. Today there are 39:

Active Rigs3964191192181

(39 - 33) / 33 = an 18% increase in the number of active rigs. (In July, 2016, there were 31 active rigs, and recently the number of active rigs has occasionally hit 40: (40 - 31) / 31 =  a 29% increase in active rigs.

If operators continue to add rigs -- perhaps another 10 by next summer, and if the DAPL is completed, my hunch is that North Dakota will be back above 1 million bopd by next summer. 

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