North Dakota – update through September 2019

These interactive presentations contain the latest oil & gas production data from all 15,277 horizontal wells in North Dakota that started production from 2005 onward, through September.

September oil production in North Dakota fell 2% m-o-m to 1.40 million bo/d (horizontal wells only), based on preliminary data. About 120 horizontal wells were completed in September, significantly lower than a year earlier (150), but higher than in the previous month (107).

Well productivity is so far almost unchanged from the previous year, as you can find in the “Well quality” tab. The wells that began production in 2019 are on track to recover on average 151 thousand barrels of oil in the first 9 months on production, versus 145 thousand that the wells from the 2018 vintage recovered in that time-frame.

All leading operators were in September below their production peak (“Top operators”), although Continental Resources and Marathon were extremely close.

A new dashboard in our analytics service easily reveals which operators have the most productive wells in North Dakota:


Well productivity ranking. Hz. wells since 2014 and only operators with over 20 wells.

Here you can see all the horizontal wells that began production since 2014, in the core of the Bakken. The operators are ranked by the average cumulative oil recovered in the first 2 years. Only companies with at least 20 wells are shown. The map also shows the location of all these wells, and they are colored by the same metric.

Enerplus is clearly in the lead, with just over 280 thousand barrels of oil per well. Clicking on an operator in this dashboard will highlight all its wells on the map (Enerplus has all its wells in McKenzie and Dunn). WPX, which completed more wells in this period than Enerplus (139 vs 80, with at least 2 years of production history) is in a good 2nd place, with 243 thousand barrels of oil.

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.

In this chart you can find that well productivity improved from 2017 to 2018. However, if you group the wells by quarter of first production (use the “Show wells by” selection), which shows more recent and granular data, you will find that since Q3 2017 well performance has not further increased.

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.


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