North Dakota – update through September 2016

Total oil production in North Dakota decreased by 10 kbo/d to 972 kbo/d in September, after a drop of 48 kbo/d in the previous month.

Some observations based on the new data:

  • September had 73 new wells on production, vs 66 in the previous month.
  • Looking at the well quality, I don’t see any major changes compared with previous months. Wells starting in 2015 & 2016 seem to peak a little higher, but are on track to return to similar performance as earlier wells after just over a year. They are quite a bit more gassy.
  • After about a 30% drop in total oil production for Whiting, and Continental Resources, since the beginning of 2016, both showed a small increase in oil production in September (see “Top operators” tab).
  • In the ND webinar (just released), Mr. Helms mentions that he expects the number of rigs to rise in North Dakota from the current 38, to about 50 in the coming 12 months.
  • I want to make a comment about the average number of actually producing days. I’ve seen estimates that the typical well is operated about 9 months in a year. The data shows a much higher number : since 2005 the % of days that the average horizontal well is operated (vs the total available calendar days), dropped from 93%, to 88% in 2015. This shows that the average horizontal well, in North Dakota, is not producing about 1.5 months a year, in recent years. In the “Well quality” tab I show the performance of wells based on calendar months, not on producing days, for several other reasons related to economic evaluation.

I want to stress that in all my posts I only show oil & gas production from horizontal wells, which can cause a discrepancy if you compare my numbers with the official state or EIA ones (especially the Permian has a lot of production from vertical wells). In the case of North Dakota, this difference is small (about 30 kbo/d).

Around November 30th I plan another post on the Marcellus & Utica basins. I also aim to have a post on something new (still a surprise) by the end of next week.

For this presentation, I used data gathered from the following sources:

  • DMR of North Dakota


The above presentation has 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, and include or exclude categories.
  • 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.