Bakken Oil Update – North Dakota Expects 50% More Oil Rigs

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As of March 31, 2010, 103 rigs were actively drilling in the state, according to statistics from the North Dakota Industrial Commission’s Oil and Gas Division. During the fall and winter months, estimates had the rig count approaching 125. Now some estimates put the rig count as high as 150. On average, each rig requires in the neighborhood of 70-80 workers to operate and get online. If the rig count reaches anywhere from the 125-150 range, western North Dakota is looking at an influx of a few thousand workers. The Bakken Formation is an oil-rich, expansive underground rock formation that spans over 200,000 square miles underneath North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan.

There are roughly 4,500 producing oil wells in North Dakota with about 1,000 new wells that came into production in the past two years. So each oil rig is drilling about 5 new wells each year.

North Dakota ranks fourth in the nation in crude oil production at about 250,000 barrels a day coming out of the ground, but that could increase dramatically with companies tapping into a new formation, the Three Forks-Sanish, that lies beneath the Bakken Formation.

As good as things are now, estimates are North Dakota’s oil production could hit 300,000 to 400,000 barrels a day and sustain that level for 10 to 15 years, Helms said.

Helms said in a recent Bloomberg Business Week article, the new projection comes on the heels of recent discoveries by companies like Continental Resources Inc. The Bakken Formation contributed to a 7.5 percent gain in U.S. crude output in 2008, Bloomberg reported. Helms said the Three Forks-Sanish has the potential to produce at least half as much oil as the Middle Bakken. He said the 4.3 billion barrel projection by the USGS does not include the Three Forks-Sanish formation.

Brigham Exploration plans to use the roughly $213 million generated by the sale to increase its rig count from four to eight by may of next year. The new programme calls for Brigham to drill 76 net Bakken and Three Forks wells over the next two years.

A long horizontal well completed in the Bakken formation has produced oil and gas at an early 24-hr peak flow back rate, said Brigham Exploration Co

Rate was 4,335 barrels of oil per day of oil and 4.79 MMcfd of gas at the Sorenson 29-32 1H, for a combined rate of 5,133 boe/d. That rate represents an apparent record production level for the more than 2,700 horizontal wells in the Williston basin based on publicly reported date, the company said.

Brigham has a 95% working interest in the well, which was completed with 27 frac stages, perf and plug, and ceramic proppant. The well is in the Ross area of Mountrail County.

Based on this updated production performance, Brigham has completed five long-lateral high-frac stage wells in Ross with an average early 24-hr peak flow back rate of about 2,980 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

This is almost 15,000 barrels of oil per day from just five wells. This initial level usually declines to about half of that level for more sustained operations.

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