North Dakota - update through May 2017

This interactive presentation contains the latest oil & gas production data from all 12463 horizontal wells in North Dakota that started production since 2005, through May 2017.

Oil production in North Dakota dropped with about 1% in May over the previous month, even though 87 new horizontal wells started production. This was the highest number since October 2015. Gas production climbed higher to 1.85 Bcf/day, which was a new record.

In the “Well quality” tab, the production profiles of all these wells can be seen. The dark blue curve, representing the average performance of the wells that started in 2016, was again higher than the 2015 curve, in the first 12 months. But the number of 2016 wells was also 50% lower.  With a lateral length over 10 thousand feet, the average new well in North Dakota is still quite a bit longer than the average well in the other tight oil & gas basins.

The last tab (“Top operators”) shows that in May, Continental Resources took over the leading position from Whiting.


The ‘Advanced Insights’ presentation is displayed below:



This “Ultimate recovery” overview shows how all these horizontal wells are heading towards their ultimate oil or gas recovery.

Also here you’ll see the improvement in initial performance of 2016 wells over earlier wells.  You can switch to quarter or “month of first flow” to see a more detailed and recent picture.

The last tab (Water ratio) gives an overview of how associated water production has increased in recent years, and that it is now at a level slightly above that of oil production for the first time since 2010.

I’m working on several new posts, but these are not planned yet. Stay tuned!

For these presentations, I used data gathered from the following sources:

  • DMR of North Dakota. These presentations only show the production from horizontal wells; a small amount (about 30 kbo/d)  is produced from conventional vertical wells.



The above presentations have many interactive features:

  • You can click through the blocks on the top to see the slides.
  • Each slide has filters that can be set, e.g. to select individual or groups of operators. You can first click “all” to deselect all items. You have to click the “apply” button at the bottom to enforce the changes. After that, click anywhere on the presentation.
  • Tooltips are shown by just hovering the mouse over parts of the presentation.
  • You can move the map around, and zoom in/out.
  • By clicking on the legend you can highlight selected items.
  • Note that filters have to be set for each tab separately.
  • The operator who currently owns the well is designated by “operator (current)”. The operator who operated a well in a past month is designated by “operator (actual)”. This distinction is useful when the ownership of a well changed over time.
  • If you have any questions on how to use the interactivity, or how to analyze specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.


  • Tita says:


    Your work is always interesting.

    Just a little observation about the production differences between your precedent update (april) and this one. We would expect that latest data indicate a higher production for a same month, as some production may still not be accounted. But it seems that it is the opposite. Not by much.

    In the april update, the total production for april was 1’015’223 bbls/d with 12’409 wells active, while in this update, the same month is at 1’014’929 bbls/d with 12’376 wells active. It seems that when they don’t have yet the data, they do some estimations to be as accurate as possible (which is quite high).

    Do all the sources you use (TRRC for example) do the same, or have lower accuracy?

    Thank you very much

    1. Enno says:

      Thank you Tita,

      Happy to see that you’re looking at this very closely.

      I didn’t mention it, but there are probably 2 reasons for the small difference:

      1) Every July, North Dakota releases the annual production report for the year before. I have again used this this month, as this data contains the actual production numbers for all wells, including wells that were previously confidential. For those confidential wells, I used the sales data before (which is still a very close proxy of the actual production data).

      2) During the last 2 months, I have started to gather far more data on wells. I can now distinguish far better the status, location, and condition of wells. I have fine-tuned the way how I determine whether a well is a horizontal well. This change caused that 33 wells have dropped out of my analysis (as I focus only on horizontal wells). You can see this if you look in both updates at the April data, and group production by “All”; the tooltip will show you the number of wells in April, and that the new data contains 33 wells less.

      My general impression is that the production data in North Dakota is very accurate, and adjustments over time are quite small. That is also the reason why the updates for North Dakota always contain more recent data than I show for the other basins. Especially for Texas, the (upward) adjustments are far larger. I belief that this is caused especially by new wells in Texas for which production only is made public after a couple of months.

      I don’t think that the states estimate any production data. They use what the operators inform them, and sometimes those numbers are changed. The EIA on the other hand tries to estimate actual production, taking those likely future adjustments into account.

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