North Dakota – update through December 2018

These interactive presentations contain the latest oil & gas production data from all 14,383 horizontal wells in North Dakota that started production since 2005, through December.

Oil production in North Dakota increased by almost 2% m-o-m to just over 1.4 million barrels of oil per day in December, after a small drop in November. In December 121 wells started production, vs. 98 in November.

Although the number of wells that started production in 2018 was more than a thousand fewer than in 2014 (1,266 vs. 2,276), they contributed more production at the end of the year (630 kbo/d, vs 595 kbo/d in Dec 2014).

The reason behind this is that initial well productivity greatly increased over these years, as is shown in the ‘Well quality’ tab. The wells that started in 2018 are on a path to recover just over 170 thousand barrels of oil in the first year, while this was below 100 thousand barrels for the wells from 2014. One major difference between these 2 vintages was the amount of proppant used; 4.5 million pounds per completion in 2014, vs. 10 million pounds in 2018.

All the top 5 operators are at or near record production levels (“Top operators”).

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 quarter in which production started.

As you can see, the best initial performance so far came from wells that started in Q3 2017. The 271 wells that started in that quarter recovered on average 207 thousand barrels of oil in the first 16 months, and have now declined to 191 bo/d, from a peak rate of 719 bo/d.

If you switch product to ‘gas’, you can find the gas production from the same wells. What is striking is that newer wells produce way more gas than older ones (I estimate up to 3 times more). As gas is not earning a lot of money in North Dakota, I advice to be aware of this when looking at production metrics in this basin that use ‘BOE’ (barrels of oil equivalent).

Is this rising GOR having an impact on well productivity?

On a large scale, the effect seems to be currently limited. However, in some areas well performance appears to suffer from this. As an example, using a dashboard from our analytics service, please find here below the wells from Oasis in McKenzie County. I preselected a couple of quarters, to show how well behavior has changed since 2011.

Well performance and GOR of 44 horizontal wells operated by Oasis in McKenzie

Well performance and GOR of 44 horizontal wells operated by Oasis in McKenzie

The location of these wells is shown on the map on the left. On the right side, you will find the flow rate vs. cumulative plot, and the GOR vs. cumulative plot at the bottom. It shows that the wells from Q2 2011 are on a path to recover most oil, even though the more recent wells started at a far higher peak rate. The steepening of the decline seems to correlate with the rise in GOR.

As I mentioned last week, we now have data from Oklahoma in our database, which is available to all our analytics and data subscribers. I would like to make this data also available here on the blog. But because we spent a significant amount of money and time on this, I would first like to see that our customer base has grown even further. My promise to you is this; once we have added 100 more Professional (or Ultimate, once this level is available) analytics subscribers, I will include Oklahoma in our blog posts here. How can you help? Maybe you find use in the more advanced features of these services or know people who might. Please let them know about us, and hopefully we can soon share this data with you here. Thank you for supporting us!

Early next week we will have an update on gas production in Pennsylvania.

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 40 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.


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