North Dakota – update through August 2019

These interactive presentations contain the latest oil & gas production data from all 15,156 horizontal wells in North Dakota that started production from 2005 onward, through August.

Oil and gas production in North Dakota set new records in August, as both increased by more than 2% m-o-m. This is based on preliminary data, as the DMR’s Director’s Cut will be released on Thursday.

Completion activity was high in the summer, with over 140 wells completed in June and July, followed by 106 in August (so far).

Initial well performance is at a similar level as last year (see “Well quality” tab), slightly up from 2017. Although wells are peaking at a higher level, the decline rates seen in the first 2 years on production are also higher than for previous well vintages.

In the “Well status” tab, you will find the status of all these wells over time. The DUC count in August was near the lowest level in 5 years, at 788 wells. In our ShaleProfile Analytics service (Professional), you can find that 85% of these wells were drilled since the beginning of last year.

Except for Whiting, all operators in the top-5 were at or close to record production in August (“Top operators”). Continental Resources is still the clear leader in this state, with almost 200,000 barrels of oil operated production capacity.

However, it doesn’t have the most productive wells. As the following screenshot shows (also taken from our analytics service), this title goes to Marathon and ConocoPhillips:


Average well performance of the top-5 operators in ND (2016 – 2019)

These 2 charts show the average well performance (flow rate & cumulative production versus time) of all the horizontal wells that came online since 2016, operated by these 5 companies. Marathon’s wells peak far higher, but the initial declines are also steeper. Continental Resources uses the most proppants (~ 12 million pounds per completion), although Hess also started to experiment with far higher proppant loadings this year (>16 million pounds).

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.

Early next week, we will have a post 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.


  • daniel says:

    GOR keeps increasing – ND is clearly not shale oil but more of a conventional tight oil play where depletion-driven GOR increase obvious in new wells. Lesser issue in Permian for now.


  • daniel says:

    Permian is “younger” LTO play, with time GOR would have to increase as well. More gassier to start with.


  • Phatom says:


    I am so glad you understand that the Bakken isn’t a true shale play. The problem is these operators think they can drill the Bakken like a Shale play. It just won’t work. 8 wells per DSU should be max. This play will die a horrible death over the next 5 years as they move away from the core as Drilling Density starts to show itself.

  • jim brooker says:

    The curves of GOR versus cumulative recovery from the analytics website for the Williston are fascinating. GOR increasing with increasing gas saturation in the control volume. The gas saturation is increasing because the oil saturation is decreasing with production. Has more of a physical relevance than time alone, and it shows.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *