North Dakota – update through May 2019

These interactive presentations contain the latest oil & gas production data from all 14,814 horizontal wells in North Dakota that started production from 2005 onward, through May.

Oil production in North Dakota was flat for the 2nd consecutive month, at 1.39 million bo/d, just below the record high in January (1.40 million bo/d). In May, 111 horizontal wells came online, 2 more than a year earlier.

The “Top operators” dashboard provides an overview of the production history of the 5 leading operators. Continental Resources is far in the lead with close to 200,000 bo/d. Marathon has just taken the 2nd spot from Whiting.

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 reveals that the 1,238 wells that began production last year had the best start so far; they recovered on average 105 thousand barrels of oil in the first 6 months on production and they were still producing 570 bo/d at that time.

The wells that started a year earlier (2017), have now on average reached the 200,000 bbl mark. They will likely recover another 100,000 bbl, before their average production rate has dropped to 40 bo/d.

We are these days in the beautiful city of Denver, at the URTeC. If you are in the area, visit us at booth #951 for a chat and a demo!

Early next week we will have a post on gas production in Pennsylvania, which also released May production data recently, followed by updates on the Permian and the Eagle Ford. The latest data from these basins is already available in our subscription services.

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.


  • Enno says:

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. In my personal view, I think it’s more likely that they got this wrong.

  • Laura says:

    I tend to agree with Enno, that’s a bold claim with suspect technology. At $4-6MM a well depending on lateral length it’s not a bunch of poor boy operators out fracking these – consequences of compliance failure or fraud (as the article would lead) are major. The study folks should be able to check lat/longs and RRC if they are going to go as far as identifying specific numbers of fraced wells. Would of course have to see the data and study methods but it’s highly suspect.

  • Mike Shellman says:

    I am a Texas operator; it is not possible to fabricate production from imaginary wells. Any BO that leaves a lease boundary for sale or off-lease/unit storage MUST be reported to the TRRC and that production MUST be assigned to a TRRC well ID number, or a drilling permit number and placed into a “pending file, awaiting a TRRC ID number. Fracfocus is NA in this debate. The allegations regarding fabricated “accounting” based on wells that do not exist is merely implied and easily refuted in SEC filings.

    The US shale oil phenomena has enough “self-induced” problems that can be easily addressed with factual data (like that found here, on without fake news muddying up the works. Take current decline rates in the Permian, for instance; if you are standing behind that well decline these days you’ll get sucked plum off your feet.

  • Snowback says:

    So the truth on Permian DUC count lies somewhere in between perhaps?

    Do this exercise:
    1) Go to the last Permian update blog entry here from Enno
    2) Click on Well Status tab
    3) Look at the maximum number of DUCs dating back perhaps 3-6 months for fully baked data – (drum roll please…)
    4) Compare that to the ~ 4,000 well Permian DUC count number currently being reported by the EIA –
    5) Discuss amongst yourselves…

    Thanks to all for the great discussions!

  • Enno says:

    Thanks for your comment Snowback,

    I think our DUC data is pretty accurate until about May 2018. After that you can find a drop-off in the number of wells drilled. The reason is that we rely heavily on the completion reports from the TRRC (W2 forms), which contains the spud date for example. It appears that these forms are often submitted/processed many months after the actual completion date.

    If anybody is aware of other sources that can be utilized to determine which wells were already spud/drilled, before the W2 is available, we would love to hear it. (We already use permits, pending lease production data, FracFocus).

    The 4,000 DUCs from the EIA appears too high in my view, especially as the horizontal rig count has dropped by about 10% since the start of this year. But it would be nice to see that accurately in the data.

  • SRSrocco says:


    How can Continental Resources production reach 200K in Jan 2019 in your charts, when the company is only reporting 149,078 Barrels per day Q2 2019?


  • SRSrocco says:


    The only way Continental could be producing anything close to 190-200K in the Bakken is if it is BOE, not BO. Are these charts reporting BOE??

    Lastly, Continental is not purchasing any oil or gas to increase its production figures in the Bakken, according to their 10-Q’s


  • Enno says:


    We never report BOE, which is a metric that I don’t find helpful (as without the liquid content it doesn’t tell you anything about the value of these hydrocarbons).

    We show the gross operated volumes for all operators, whereas operators can only report that part of production that they actually own in their financial publications. The difference is caused by all kinds of interests by others (and non-op interests that these operators have in other wells).

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