North Dakata has added 20,000 barrels of oil per day since the end of 2007 and the end of May, 2008 At the end of May, 2008 North Dakota is producing 156,356 barrels of oil per day.
Nine other states currently are listed in the count as being “major” oil-producing states: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. In the most recent count, North Dakota ranked seventh in terms of number of rigs but had the second-biggest increase over the year with 29 more rigs, behind only Texas with an additional 84
Northern holds a working interest in an additional fourteen wells that are in the drilling or completion stages and is included in nearly 70 permitted or docketed-for-permit drilling locations that are expected to drill between now and early 2009. Northern Oil controls approximately 60,000 net acres in the North Dakota Bakken play, yielding over 90 net well locations based on 640 acre drilling units. In addition, Northern controls approximately 22,000 net acres in Sheridan County, Montana and has successfully completed two wells to the Red River formation.
The recently completed Johnson 33 #1H well operated by Brigham Exploration is representative of Northern’s growing success in the North Dakota Bakken play. The well flowed at an early rate of 650 BOPD, with sustained production of approximately 560 BOPD. The Johnson well is located significantly north of the Parshall field, representing an important Northern extension of prolific Bakken production. Northern participated in the Johnson 33 #1H with a 16.5% Working Interest.
After a vertical well is drilled to that level, the drill goes horizontal, a technique that had been used for years. In the Bakken – named for a North Dakota farmer on whose farm the shale layers were first identified in the 1950s – horizontal drilling is paired with another technique, fracturing. That involves forcing a mixture of sand, water and gel underground at enormous pressures, thanks to those banks of 2,200-horsepower pump trucks.
As the mixture shoots out of holes in the horizontal pipe, the water opens up cracks in the rock and the sand flows in behind it, holding the fractures open so oil can ooze down into the pipe – the same one used to pump in the mixture of sand and liquid – and from there to be drawn to the surface.
“It’s kind of like a mining operation, in a way,” Lechner said. “You need more tunnels.”
In the case of the Hartland 14X-26 well, the frac crew worked for a little more than two days, pumping 700,000 gallons of water and gel and about 800,000 pounds of sand into the ground. A typical drilling unit will have as many three lateral wellbores per two sections of land, which is 1,280 acres. The perpendicular fractures run out about 50 feet on both sides of each lateral. The laterals have perforated pipes, called liners, that keep the wellbores from collapsing after the frac job.
“For every square mile of land in the Bakken, there’s four to five million barrels of oil in place,” says Gregg Smith, Petrobank’s vice-president. “We feel we can make the Bakken profitable if prices stay above $50 a barrel — it’s extremely good quality oil, it’s what the refineries want the most.” Today at least 65 oil rigs, many of them locally owned, are drilling and finishing wells on the Bakken, at a cost of $2-million per well.