North Dakota – update through November 2017

This interactive presentation contains the latest oil & gas production data from all 13,020 horizontal wells in North Dakota that started production since 2005, through November 2017.

Oil production in North Dakota increased by 1% in November, to almost 1.2 million barrels of oil per day, after the 7% rise in October. Gas production made a new high at 2.1 Bcf/d.

Operators have been more careful in managing initial flow in 2017, which is why the actual production peak of new wells is not reached until the 3rd month on production (see the ‘Well quality’ tab).

One question I received last week is how I deal with survivorship bias, that is, how wells that are no longer producing are taken into account. Once a well has started production, I will ensure that each calendar month it has a production record, whether producing or not (even when it is plugged). This way, the production of each cohort of wells can be analyzed in an easy way, and no bias exists. This is also why the well count doesn’t change over time (see the tooltips), if you select a certain group of wells that started in a specific month.

The number of drilled, but uncompleted wells has remained rather constant in North Dakota through 2017 (808 in Nov, vs 816 in Jan).

Of the leading operators Continental Resources grew production the most in 2017, as is visualized in the last overview (“Top operators”).


The ‘Advanced Insights’ presentation is displayed below:



This “Ultimate recovery” overview shows how all these horizontal wells are heading towards their ultimate oil or gas recovery, with wells grouped by the quarter in which production started.

The 275 wells (dark blue curve on top) that started in the 3rd quarter had on average an excellent 3rd month on production, producing on average a cumulative 50 thousand barrels of oil. In comparison, this was about 50% higher than the wells that started 2 years earlier (in Q3 2015).

Despite these higher gains early on, you can see that the wells in recent quarters follow similar decline paths as earlier wells.

Quite a bit more natural gas is recovered though, which you’ll note if you switch ‘Product’ to gas. Unfortunately for the operators here, not much money is earned on this, due to low gas prices.

Next week I plan to have new updates on the Permian and Eagle Ford.


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 30 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.