North Dakota - update through January 2018

This interactive presentation contains the latest oil & gas production data from all 13,185 horizontal wells in North Dakota that started production since 2005, through January 2018.

January oil production in North Dakota came in at 1,176 kbo/d, after another small month-on-month drop of just under 1%. More wells were inactive, and only 60 new wells started producing in January.

If you change the ‘Show production by’ selection to ‘Production level’, you can see that since the 2nd half of 2017 a rather significant part of production comes from a small number of wells that are producing at a very high level (161 wells did each >800 bo/d in January), far larger than at the previous peak in the end of 2014.

The ‘Well quality’ tab also shows that the wells that started in 2017 peaked at a higher rate than earlier wells, despite being larger in number than in the previous year (976 vs 724 in 2016). But most of the improvements appear to be located in the first 10-20 months of production, as the initial decline is now steeper as well.

The number of DUCs has remained fairly constant in the past year (831 in Jan 2018 vs 816 in Jan 2017), which can be see in the ‘Well status’ overview.

Continental Resources, which did significantly reduce its DUC inventory in the previous 12 months, set another record in January, and is now clearly leading in total oil production (see the ‘Top operators’ tab).


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.

As I remarked last time as well, it’s interesting to note here that initial well performance has been steadily improving over the past 10 years, but this has come at least somewhat at the expense of later well performance as some of the more recent vintages are now on a path to cross the curves from earlier years. For example, the average 2013 well is now tracking a lower recovery than the average 2008 well, despite starting better.

Significantly more gas is produced though, as can be seen when you switch ‘product’ to ‘gas’, and also in the 9th dashboard (‘Gas Oil ratio’): newer wells start gassier, and the GOR rises more quickly.

Next week I will have a new update on Ohio, which recently released Q4 2017 production figures, followed by a new ‘Projections’ post.


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.


  • tqc says:

    enno, thanks for all the great works. I am looking for a FAQ like that can explain

    1) whether and how you include the NGL volume from the gas plant.
    2) whether condensates are consistently reported in the “oil” (since only gas and oil volume are reported).


    1. Enno says:

      Tian, xie xie ni.

      Regarding your questions:
      1) I follow the production numbers as released by each individual state. Unfortunately, there are differences between states in how they deal with the reporting of NGL. Some do not include it (e.g. Texas), while others have it reported as part of the oil or gas streams.
      2) Condensate is typically reported within the oil production numbers. In the cases where states report this separately (e.g. Texas, Pennsylvania), I add it to the oil numbers myself.

      1. tqc says:

        Enno, thanks. Hope your venture take off soonly! I am sure there will be great demand for it.

  • Drilling Guy says:

    Looks to me like North Dakota will have a hard time to break through 1.2 M bbl/day without a huge cash infusion from the banks. They have a nice and steady oil business with 60 rigs working but that’s about it. Dilling and frac costs will probably escalate at the same rate as the price of oil. They can’t hide behind last year’s tax bonus any more.

  • Chris Taylor says:

    Advanced insights related question & inputs as follows
    Ultimate Recovery + (Show well by) Year of First Flow
    (Selection) – (Year of first flow) 2016

    Resultant graph has only 14 points? – missing 12 monthly observations to bring it up to date?

    In anticipation, many thanks

    1. Enno says:


      > Resultant graph has only 14 points?

      That is correct: The reason is that wells that started in Dec 2016 have only 14 months to report through Jan 2017, and therefore the curves stop right there.

      I decided to not include the earlier 11 points (Jan-Nov 2016) for the following 2 reasons:
      1) There would be some strange visual artifacts if well productivity has changed over the year
      2) The tails would not final, e.g. they would still move around when new data comes in.

      To see more recent data, you have a few options:
      – change the ‘Show production by’ to quarter or month of first flow (this latter option would include all data, just the number of curves would be 12, one for each month in 2016).
      – Go to the ‘Well quality’ tab in the first presentation, which does show these ‘incomplete tails’.

      Just let me know if you have any other questions.

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