North Dakota - update through December 2017

This interactive presentation contains the latest oil & gas production data from all 13,125 horizontal wells in North Dakota that started production since 2005, through December 2017.

Oil production in North Dakota for December came in 1% lower compared with the previous month (1,181 kbo/d vs 1,197 kbo/d). After 2 years of falling output, 2017 showed a remarkable recovery in the Bakken, almost back to the previous high in Dec 2014.

In fact 2017 displayed the strongest year over year growth except for 2014, despite that only 995 wells were put on production, a lower number than in any of the years between 2011-2015. The reason behind this is that initial well productivity is significantly higher, as you can see in the ‘Well quality’ tab.

On average, a 2014 well did 58 kbo in the first 6 calendar months, while for wells that started in the first half of 2017 this metric rose to 96 kbo, a 65% increase. Based on the data so far, EURs don’t appear to be up by the same percentage though, as most of these improvements appear in the first 1-2 years.

The number of drilled, but uncompleted wells dropped somewhat in 2017 (751 vs 828), as shown in the ‘Well status’ tab. Continental Resources, the leading operator in the Bakken, has been more aggressive with completing this inventory, while not drilling many new wells. You can see this by selecting this operator in the ‘Operator’ selection.


The ‘Advanced Insights’ presentation is displayed below:



This “Ultimate recovery” overview shows how all these horizontal wells are heading towards their ultimate recovery, with wells grouped by the year in which production started.

It clearly shows how early well behavior has improved over the years. But it’s also interesting to see that, on average, the wells from 2012-2014 are now starting to track a lower recovery than the 2008-2011 wells. A factor behind this is that more of those earlier wells have been refracked, but I think that this effect holds up when you correct for that. This is an area that I want to provide more insight on in the coming year.

If you change the ‘Show wells by’ selection to ‘quarter of first flow’, wells will be grouped by the quarter in which they started. It offers a more detailed, and recent, view, and will show how early performance has kept improving in 2017.

Next week I will have a new post on the Niobrara.


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.