North Dakota – Advanced Insights (test)

Today I’m happy to introduce a more advanced interactive presentation regarding shale oil production in North Dakota. It enables you to answer many more questions, which my earlier presentations couldn’t easily do.

A few examples of questions which this presentation addresses:

  • Which operators, counties, fields or formations have the best and worst performing wells?
  • How has well productivity developed over time?
  • Where exactly are those best and worst performing locations?
  • Instead of only looking at the average well productivity, how are the returns, and production rates, exactly distributed?
  • Towards which ultimate oil & gas returns are wells trending?

This presentation includes 6 slides (accessible by clicking at the tabs (‘blocks’)) at the top. Here follows a brief explanation of each of these new overviews:

Productivity ranking

This first overview ranks the selected dimension (‘Operators’ by default), based on the average well productivity. This allows you easily to find out which operator, county, or formation has the best or worst wells.

To measure well productivity, we need to know two things:

  • for which product (oil or gas). This can be selected with the ‘product’ selection.
  • for which period. This can be selected by setting how many months of production is counted.

The top list then ranks the dimension based on this average well productivity. If you click on one item in the list, the map below will show the exact locations of the related wells, with colored dots. The size of these dots gives an indication of the average well productivity for wells in that area. You can click on these objects on the map to get more information, such as the number of wells.

By clicking a name on the color legend, the related wells will be highlighted. This works in all views.

Also, as usual, addition filters are available at the right side, to narrow down which wells are considered, and from which period.

Productivity over time

This second overview works similarly, but is meant to reveal how this well productivity has evolved over time. This will show very quickly whether wells in a basin or county, or for an operator, have improved or deteriorated over time.

You can select again how well productivity is measured (product & period). The date that wells started production is shown on the x-axis.

Be aware that this measurement for well productivity is just a snapshot in time, and that, due to changing production profiles, a measurement over a different time horizon may give quite different results.

With the ‘granularity’ selection, you can set whether the graph shows productivity over years, quarters or months. This should help to zoom in/out.

Productivity map

This overview shows all the fields in the basin, by operator, and the colouring is based on the average well productivity in that location.

With this it is very easy to find where wells have been doing well or badly.

More information is shown in tooltips, by selecting objects on the map.

Productivity distribution

If you are interested in knowing how well returns are distributed, this is the place to look. Again, you can select how well productivity is calculated, and the graph will show how many wells have reached a certain amount of cumulative production.

The orange line (the running % of total, displayed on the right hand side) is helpful to determine the percentage of wells that are above or below a certain amount of cumulative production. With this you can quickly figure out how much the top 10% of wells have produced for example.

The average and median returns are also shown below the graph.

This, and the next overview, only work for oil at the moment, and not yet for gas production.

Rate distribution

This overview works the same as the previous one, but instead of showing the cumulative returns of wells, it shows how production rates are distributed after a specified period that wells have been producing.

For example, if you want to know how production rates are distributed after 5 years on production, you can easily find that here.

The small overview below the graph shows again how many wells are included in the selection, and the average & median production rate.

Ultimate return

This is one of my favorite overviews. The graph plots production rates against cumulative well production. It gives in my opinion quite a good indication towards which ultimate return wells are trending, especially if you select a certain production rate as the cut-off point.

You can select to show wells by year, quarter, or month of first flow (other dimensions will not show anything). This overview works for both oil & gas. Also, the chart can be set to (semi-) logarithmic, or linear scale. I’m not assuming that the well profiles follow a specific function, but nonetheless these charts seem helpful in determining a realistic potential.

Note that the chart only shows wells once all wells for the selected starting period have reached a certain age (in other words, incomplete ‘tails’ are hidden). This explains why 2016 wells are not yet shown, as not all 2016 wells have started yet. If you select well profiles by quarter or month of first flow, more recent results are therefore shown (as the incomplete tails are shorter).

This is the end of the description of this new presentation.

My intention is to improve and extend this presentation, based on feedback I receive. In the future I may start to publish this advanced version for each of the basins on a regular basis (in addition to the existing free updates), but for either a subscription or one-time fee.

I am very interested to hear from you what you think about this, and whether or how, this presentation could add value for you. Feel free to either post your feedback in the forum, or by mail to me directly (using the contact form). Also, if you have any questions, or encounter any glitches, please let me know.

This test version contains the latest production data for North Dakota through September. Depending on your feedback, I may release more test versions in the coming 2 months, in which I can include data for other basins.

[updated] Once Ohio releases Q3 production, I will publish a new update on the Appalachian basin (Marcellus & Utica), which will be followed by posts on Texas.

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.