Monday, September 13, 2021

Random Observation Regarding Whiting's Southern Bakken Play, From A Reader -- September 13, 2021

A reader sent this note after a sidebar conversation regarding Whiting's southern Bakken play:

  • These are some of the first drilled, not so-hot producers, hopefully someday re-frack, if that would take care of it?? However, as you say, I think they just turn the spigot down on these. I have seen times where they produce a good amount per month, and then back down a lot.
  • PRONGHORN FEDERAL  41-15PH SWSE10140100   #24161
  • PRONGHORN FEDERAL 11-15PH NENW15140100   #24158
  • PRONGHORN FEDERAL 21-15PH NENW15140100   #24157
  • These are the better ones, even though some are older, again, maybe a re-frack someday. Also, as you have mentioned to me in the past, if the price is right, maybe some more drilled over here someday in the future.

  • SMITH FEDERAL 41-13PH SESE12140100   #28055
  • PRONGHORN FEDERAL 11-13PH  NENW13140100   #27691
  • PRONGHORN FEDERAL  21-13TFH  NENW13140100    #20504
  • PRONGHORN FEDERAL  21-13-2PH  SESW12140100     #31779
  • PRONGHORN FEDERAL  31-13PH   SESW12140100       #31780
  • PRONGHORN FEDERAL  41-14PHU    SWSW12140100      #32301

  • This one sits in Bell. Literally just over the fence line from Park to Bell, which is also from Billings County to Start County.

    • HECKER  11-18PHU    LOT1 1814099    STK   #31882

The reader: notice all the different handles, PH, TFH, PHU.

My reply:

The "handle" designations:

    • TFH: Three Forks, around 11,036 top in one well.PH: Pronghorn member of the Three Forks, about 10,917 top in one well.
    • PHU: any "handle" with the "U" designation simply means a "unit" well, or a well with four-section (2560-acre) spacing. Unless otherwise designated, most Bakken drilling units are now two-section (1280-acre) spacing.
I'm not sure how much difference there is between the "TFH" and the "PH." It's possible this is some extent due to change in nomenclature over the years. Maybe a reader knows. It seems I've discussed this before -- a long, long time ago. 

Abbreviated post. I may add to this later. But I wanted to get it posted in "real time."

And yes, the Bakken operators manage their assets closely, opening and tightening the spigots on individual wells, as you have noticed.

Later, see comments regarding nomenclature, or naming the wells. Example:

  • PRONGHORN FEDERAL  31-13PH   SESW12140100       #31780
    • Pronghorn Federal: family name or alpha-portion of the name of the well; all wells have some type of such designation;
    • 31: this must be the chronologic number; if not, Whiting does not provide a chronologic number which makes no sense; the first digits of the two-digit number may reference the subformation;
    • 13: this is the first section in which the horizontal takes oil; section 13 in this case; the bottom hole is in section 24 but is not so designated in the name of the well; many oil companies designate both sections;
    • PH: the "H" is horizontal," obviously and the "P" is Pronghorn. For other wells, "TF" is Three Forks. 
    • I am not convinced there is a designation for both an upper Pronghorn and a lower Pronghorn, as suggested by the reader (see comments) but it's possible. "P" by itself would be the "upper" Pronghorn, and the "2P" would be the lower Pronghorn (or vice versa).
      • The 2PU well: a Three Forks Pronghorn well according to the geologist's narrative; no mention of upper or lower Pron horn, but  it is interesting that unlike other reports where it is either Pronghorn or Three Forks, this is a "Three Forks Pronghorn" with no comma;
      • the narrative breaks out the "Pronghorn," the top at 10,638' TVD/10,867' MD; whereas the Three Forks Pronhorn lateral top was "10,936 - 21,014' MD. 
      • unfortunately we are not given the TVD in the narrative for the Three Forks Pronghorn lateral 
      • however, we do get those "sample tops" numbers in a spreadsheet:
        • upper Bakken: 10,619
        • middle Bakken: 10,633
        • lower Bakken: 10,635
        • Three Forks Pronghorn: 10,638
        • TF Pronghorn target: 10,650
    • The "U" in the Hecker well: clearly means a section line well, a 4-section (2560-acre) spaced well. Both wells above with the "PHU" designation are 4-section (2560-acre) spaced wells. All the rest are 1280-acre wells. Going forward, my hunch is that larger spacing (6-section spacing or 8-section spacing, for example, will also carry the "U" designation.

This post has been tagged with the "Nomenclature" tag so the ost can easily be found again later, if more information becomes available. For me, only three things concern me right now:

  • the formation, either Pronghorn or Three Forks and if they are considered different formations; and the thickness of each;
  • the size of the drilling unit; and,
  • the chronological number.


  1. Could be wrong but PHU might be Upper Pronghorn as there are two distinct benches in that formation if these wells were in the East TR Park area. TFH, as you noted, might have been a prior designation until; they fully understood the stratigraphy on which Whiting did publish a paper I believe. As you said it was a long time ago.

    1. Great catch. thank you.

      Your note raises another observation / question. This takes me back to EOG nomenclature in which the chronologic number indicated the formation because nothing else did. EOG did not overtly identify the formation, upper TFH, lower TFH, or middle Bakken, for example. They did it with numbers: I would have to go back and look their nomenclature up.

      So, now when you look at these Whiting wells you will note we have "11" , "21", "31", and "41" series of wells. I am quite sure these numbers apple to the formation but if so, it begs the question: four subformations?

      When I have the time, I might go back and look at all the drilling reports. But if accurate, that certainly suggests several more drilling sites within each drilling unit.

      The "U" however, designates a 4-section (2560-acre) spaced well. Of that I am sure, as in "PHU."

  2. Thank you Bruce for such a great post! And thank you to Borg and you for the great comments! I appreciate it!! You are the Masters, and I am the learner.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. We might know more a year from now regarding nomenclature.