North Dakota – update through November 2016

This interactive presentation contains the latest oil & gas production data from all (12080) horizontal wells in North Dakota since 2005, through November 2016.

After the surprise increase in October, oil production in North Dakota dropped again in November, with a modest 1% (10 kbo/d), to 1.034 million bo/d.

The surprise in November was the number of new wells on production (see “Well status” tab) : 82, vs 51 in October. The last time it was that high was more than a year earlier. Given that new wells typically also show growth in production in the 2nd (calendar) month on production, this is likely to have some positive effect in December as well. Still, I estimate that even this number is too low to sustain production above 1 million bo/d, and that the general trend in the coming months will be further downwards.

[Update:] Mr. Helms, during his webcast, mentioned that during the winter months many conventional wells will be shut-in, and that cold winter weather after November has lead to reduced fracking, so these factors will probably accelerate declines during these months.

The large number of new completions in November lead to a drop of 30 drilled, but uncompleted (DUC) wells, to about 840. In comparison, the current number of rigs (around 40) is capable of drilling about 60 wells per month.

The average downtime declined even further in November. I mentioned last month that wells were shut-in on average for 2.0 days in October (3.2 in Sep), but in November this was just 1.7 days.

The new ‘Advanced Insights’ presentation is displayed below:



This “Ultimate recovery” overview shows the by now probably familiar trend of ever higher initial productivity of new wells. The 2 curves at the top represent the average performance of the wells that started in the 2nd and 3rd quarter of 2016. They clearly recovered more oil in the first couple of months on production than earlier wells.

But also these wells appear to start a similar decline path afterwards, towards their ultimate recovery. This can be nicely seen for the wells that started in the 2nd half of 2015; they also extended their initial production, but are now declining at a similar slope on the plot as wells from 2010-2014.

In the 2nd tab (“Cumulative production ranking”), you can see all those 12080 wells ranked by cumulative production; 9 of them have produced more than 1 million barrels of oil, of which 2 even more than 1.5 million barrels of oil. These are exceptional results, as the median is closer to 150 kbo, but of course most wells are still producing.

I’ve updated the “Well status map” overview. It’s now very easy to find there the detailed location and status of all horizontal wells in North Dakota. For example, to see where exactly in North Dakota new wells started production last November, just click on the legend “3. First flow”, or select that status in the selection box. After doing the latter,  the map will automatically zoom in to the relevant area.

You’ll notice in this way that all the wells that started in November were in the core area. Most DUCs are located there as well, although you’ll see some outside of the core “triangle” as well. The size of the dots on the map reflects the number of wells that are part of that operator/field/formation & status combination. This makes it easy to quickly find the most relevant areas. As usual, tooltips provide more info.

I’ve added a new overview at the end of this presentation: “Water ratio”. Here you can find the water/oil (or gas, if you select gas with the “Product” selection) ratio for all wells that have water reported. That means about 98% of the wells in North Dakota, as this data is only not available for recent, confidential wells, until the NDIC releases the annual statistics for 2016.

What I found interesting in this overview is that in general not a lot of water is produced (about 1 barrel of water, for each barrel of oil), but that for very old wells (2005-2007), this ratio has been rising quite steadily and steeply in recent years. It will be interesting to see if later wells can avoid this fate. So far wells after 2007 appear on a different track.

I haven’t planned another post yet, although I’m considering to update my “Projections” post later this month.

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
  • 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.