Bakken Shale News

Bakken Shale Rig Count Decreases by Three to 188

Falling Oil Prices: How Low is Too Low for Bakken Producers

Falling Oil PriceThe Bakken-Three Forks rig count decreased by three t0 188 rigs running across our coverage area by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 190 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 15 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent Bakken news, analysts and industry leaders are worried about the effects low oil prices will have on the booming shale industry, including investment and drilling interests in the Bakken play. Since extracting shale oil is currently a more expensive process than conventional production methods, Bakken producers may be more vulnerable to lower crude prices.

Read more: Falling Oil Prices: How Low is too Low for Bakken Producers?

The U.S. rig count decreased by 3 to 1,920 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 344 rigs were targeting natural gas (flat from the previous week) and 1,575 were targeting oil in the U.S. (three less than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 189 rigs are running in the Williston Basin across MT, ND, and SD. 180 are in ND alone.

Not all rigs counted in our census are drilling for the Bakken, but it’s close. The NDIC estimates 95% or more of activity in this region targets the Bakken and Three Forks formations.

Note: The NDIC reports 190 rigs are active in North Dakota. That figure is one more than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, and ten more than the company reports in North Dakota. On any given week, a certain number of rigs are in route to the next well location or idle waiting to drill the next well. The NDIC notes that around 15 rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs decreased by three to 187 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices decreased by ~$3.00 from the previous week, trading at $64.33/bbl on Monday morning. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $49.44/bbl on December 5th. The WTI-Brent stayed flat, settling at just under $4 by the end of last week.

One natural gas rig was recorded in the region. Natural gas futures (Henry Hub) were trading at $3.70/mmbtu by the end of last week. A little more than 10% of the production stream from the Bakken and Three Forks is attributable to natural gas and roughly half of that is NGLs.

McKenzie County continues to lead development with 67 rigs running. Mountrail, Williams and Dunn counties are the only other counties with more than 27 rigs running each. View the full list below under the Bakken Drilling by County section.

Activity is dominated by horizontal drilling:

  • 172 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 13 rigs are drilling directional wells
  • 3 rigs are drilling vertical wells

Bakken Oil & Gas News

Be sure to visit our Bakken Job Listings to search openings and come back weekly for updates or sign up for alerts – Daily or Weekly Email Alerts

Bakken Drilling by County

County State Previous Week Current Week County State Previous Week Current Week
MCKENZIE ND 66 67 MCLEAN ND 1 1
WILLIAMS ND 42 41 RENVILLE ND 1 1
MOUNTRAIL ND 29 30 STARK ND 1 1
DUNN ND 27 26 MCHENRY ND 1 1
RICHLAND MT 5 5 DANIELS MT 0 0
DIVIDE ND 5 4 FALLON MT 1 0
BILLINGS ND 3 3 SHERIDAN MT 0 0
ROOSEVELT MT 3 2 VALLEY MT 0 0
BOTTINEAU ND 2 2 GOLDEN VALLEY ND 0 0
BURKE ND 2 2 MERCER ND 0 0
DAWSON MT 1 1 WARD ND 0 0
WIBAUX MT 1 1

What is the Rig Count?

The Bakken Shale Rig Count is an index of the total number of oil & gas drilling rigs running across Montana and North Dakota. The rigs referred to in this article are for ALL drilling reported by Baker Hughes and not solely wells targeting the Bakken formation. All land rigs and onshore rig data shown here are based upon industry estimates provided by the Baker Hughes Rig Count.

Falling Oil Prices: How Low is Too Low for Bakken Producers?

Exxon’s CEO Expresses Confidence in Light of Negative Speculation
Falling Oil Price

Price per Barrel: How low is too low?

In light of falling crude oil prices, there is growing speculation about how low will be too low for U.S. producers. In just a few short months, prices have plummeted from $100 a barrel to around $70 today. This has left analysts and industry leaders worried about the effects this will have on the booming shale industry, including investment and drilling interests in the Bakken play. Since extracting shale oil is currently a more expensive process than conventional production methods, Bakken producers may be more vulnerable to lower crude prices.

OPEC turned up the heat on Thanksgiving Day and sparked what some are calling an ‘oil war’, by announcing that it will hold steady on current production. This has garnered worldwide attention and assured that this downward trend in price will continue. (Read more: OPEC Challenges Bakken Shale Drillers) Certainly, this ‘war’ will have its casualties, as some shale producers will not be able to keep up. One indication of this was that drilling permits declined sharply over November, anticipating a slump for the near future. However, the deafening cries of doom are probably premature.

Keeping in step with the IEA estimate that most production in the Bakken play will remain profitable at or below $42 per barrel, Exxon Mobil CEO, Rex Tillerson told Houston Business Journal on Wednesday that the energy giant can maintain profitability until crude prices hit $40 a barrel. He also maintained his confidence in their Bakken shale initiatives.

“What you do is ensure that you can invest and be successful at the bottom of the cycle,” Tillerson said. “We test across a range that’s all the way down to $40 and up to $120.”

OPEC Challenges Bakken Shale Drillers

Continental Resources and Other Bakken Interests See Stocks Plunge
Bakken Stock Declines |Click to Enlarge

Bakken Stock Declines

In a decision that caused energy stocks to plunge on Friday, OPEC announced last week that it will not decrease production in order to curb the falling price of crude.

Viewed by many as a sort of Thanksgiving Day game of ‘chicken’, this effort is meant to drive oil prices down further in order to force U.S. shale drillers to fold in the face of falling profits. This announcement comes as the boom in shale production has produced a growing worldwide oil surplus, thus changing the global energy landscape and status quo. Some are making dire predictions about what this may mean for U.S. interests, including one Russian oil tycoon who announced to Bloomberg that he predicts a huge crash in the industry that will necessarily weed out the weaker players.

Whether this tactic by OPEC will be effective remains to be seen. In October, Continental Resources CEO, Harold Hamm, announced that prices would have to fall another 20% before Continental would cut back significantly. That precise scenario happened Friday as crude hit its lowest rate since 2010 and energy stock plummeted. Other Bakken interests similarly affected include Apache (- 11%), Marathon (-11%), EOG (- 8%) and ExxonMobil (-4.2%).

Read more: Continental Resource’s Harold Hamm on Falling Oil Prices

Read more: IHS: U.S. Shale Production Growth Will Slow, but Still Remain High

While these numbers are alarming, the IEA estimates that most production in the Bakken play are profitable at or below $42 per barrel, (which is significantly lower than the ~$70 per barrel price we see today).  It is our opinion that this $42 number is certainly shy of a threshold number on which to continue investing significant capital.

Bakken Shale Rig Count Increases by Three to 191

IHS: Shale Growth Still Strong, Despite Dip in Oil Prices
ND Pump Jack Photo

ND Pump Jack | Click to Enlarge

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count increased by three t0 191 rigs running across our coverage area by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 185 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 14 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent Bakken news, research consultancy IHS Energy reports most shale plays are economic and ~80% of potential drilling in 2015 would remain strong at WTI crude oil prices as low as $70 per barrel.

WTI traded at ~$67 today, a nearly 40% drop from June of 2014. As a result, Bakken operators, including Emerald Oil, Inc., have already announced plans to potentially scale back their drilling programs in 2015.

North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) Director Lynn Helms updated lawmakers in October on the status of oil & gas development in the state. Helms said two factors could negatively impact oil production – lower oil prices and new flaring regulations.

Read more: IHS: U.S. Shale Production Growth Will Slow, But Still Remain High

The U.S. rig count increased by decreased by 12 to 1,917 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 344 rigs were targeting natural gas (11 less than the previous week) and 1,572 were targeting oil in the U.S. (two less than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 191 rigs are running in the Williston Basin across MT, ND, and SD. 180 are in ND alone.

Not all rigs counted in our census are drilling for the Bakken, but it’s close. The NDIC estimates 95% or more of activity in this region targets the Bakken and Three Forks formations.

Note: The NDIC reports 185 rigs are active in North Dakota. That figure is six less than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, and five more than the company reports in North Dakota. On any given week, a certain number of rigs are in route to the next well location or idle waiting to drill the next well. The NDIC notes that around 14 rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs increased by three to 191 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices decreased by ~$10.00 from the previous week, trading at $67.48/bbl on Monday morning. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $49.69/bbl on November 28th. The WTI-Brent stayed flat, settling at just under $4 by the end of last week.

One natural gas rig was recorded in the region. Natural gas futures (Henry Hub) were trading at $4.05/mmbtu by the end of last week. A little more than 10% of the production stream from the Bakken and Three Forks is attributable to natural gas and roughly half of that is NGLs.

McKenzie County continues to lead development with 66 rigs running. Mountrail, Williams and Dunn counties are the only other counties with more than 27 rigs running each. View the full list below under the Bakken Drilling by County section.

Activity is dominated by horizontal drilling:

  • 176 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 13 rigs are drilling directional wells
  • 2 rigs are drilling vertical wells

Bakken Oil & Gas News

Be sure to visit our Bakken Job Listings to search openings and come back weekly for updates or sign up for alerts – Daily or Weekly Email Alerts

Bakken Drilling by County

County State Previous Week Current Week County State Previous Week Current Week
MCKENZIE ND 66 66 WIBAUX MT 0 1
WILLIAMS ND 40 42 MCLEAN ND 1 1
MOUNTRAIL ND 29 29 RENVILLE ND 1 1
DUNN ND 26 27 STARK ND 1 1
RICHLAND MT 6 5 MCHENRY ND 1 1
DIVIDE ND 5 5 DANIELS MT 0 0
ROOSEVELT MT 3 3 SHERIDAN MT 0 0
BILLINGS ND 3 3 VALLEY MT 0 0
BOTTINEAU ND 2 2 GOLDEN VALLEY ND 0 0
BURKE ND 2 2 MERCER ND 0 0
DAWSON MT 1 1 WARD ND 0 0
FALLON MT 1 1

What is the Rig Count?

The Bakken Shale Rig Count is an index of the total number of oil & gas drilling rigs running across Montana and North Dakota. The rigs referred to in this article are for ALL drilling reported by Baker Hughes and not solely wells targeting the Bakken formation. All land rigs and onshore rig data shown here are based upon industry estimates provided by the Baker Hughes Rig Count.

IHS: U.S. Shale Production Growth Will Slow, but Still Remain High

~ 80% of Potential Drilling in 2015 Would Remain "Resilient" at $70 per Barrel
ND Pump Jack Photo

ND Pump Jack | Click to Enlarge

The dip in oil prices isn’t making a huge impact yet on the vast majority of U.S. shale production.

According to a report by research consultancy IHS Energy, most shale plays are economic and ~80% of potential drilling in 2015 would remain strong at WTI crude oil prices as low as $70 per barrel.

“Since 2008 the cumulative growth in U.S. tight oil production has been 3.5 million b/d—far exceeding supply gains from the rest of the world combined—making tight oil the key driver of global supply growth,” said Jim Burkhard, Vice President, IHS. “While current lower crude oil prices do present challenges for new investment, IHS analysis shows that the vast majority of potential U.S. supply growth in 2015 remain economical at $70 for WTI.”

WTI traded at ~$76 on Monday, a nearly 20% drop since September. As a result, Bakken operators, including Emerald Oil, Inc., have already announced plans to potentially scale back their drilling programs in 2015.

Read more: Emerald Oil May Scale Back Bakken Drilling Program in Q1 2015

North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) Director Lynn Helms updated lawmakers in October on the status of oil & gas development in the state. Helms said two factors could negatively impact oil production – lower oil prices and new flaring regulations.

Read moreBakken Drillers Could Be Forced to Scale Back 2015 Efforts

Growth Still High, But Expected to Slow in U.S. Shale Plays

At lower prices, growth will slow, but still remain high, according to the report. In 2015, IHS estimates U.S. shale production will grow by 700,000 b/d at an average price of $77 per barrel in 2015. By contrast, in 2014, growth from U.S. shale plays was more than 1-million b/d.

“Expectations of the future—and the trajectory of oil prices—means that prices do not need to fall to the breakeven price before psychology, investment, and thus output, is affected,” Burkhard said.”

Approximately 80% of anticipated production has a break-even price between $50 to $69 per barrel, according to the report.

Bakken Shale Rig Count Decreases by Four to 188

North Dakota Posts Records for Oil & Gas Activity in Sept. 14' as Rig Count Drops Due to Falling Oil Prices
Bakken Oil Workers

Bakken Oil Workers | Click to Enlarge

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count decreased by four t0 188 rigs running across our coverage area by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 192 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 13 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent Bakken news, North Dakota hit 1,184,635 b/d oil in September 2014, setting a new record, according to the Department of Mineral Resources’ (DMR) November Director’s Cut. That’s 50,000 more b/d than August. During the same month, North Dakota also had record monthly gas production (1,403,448 mcf/d), and reported the highest number of producing wells to date (11,741).

Read more: North Dakota Breaks Records for Oil & Gas Activity

The U.S. rig count increased by one to 1,929 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 355 rigs were targeting natural gas (five more than the previous week) and 1,574 were targeting oil in the U.S. (four less than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 188 rigs are running in the Williston Basin across MT, ND, and SD. 177 are in ND alone.

Not all rigs counted in our census are drilling for the Bakken, but it’s close. The NDIC estimates 95% or more of activity in this region targets the Bakken and Three Forks formations.

Note: The NDIC reports 192 rigs are active in North Dakota. That figure is four more than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, and 15 more than the company reports in North Dakota. On any given week, a certain number of rigs are in route to the next well location or idle waiting to drill the next well. The NDIC notes that around 13 rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs decreased by four to 187 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices increased by ~$.40 from the previous week, trading at $76.35/bbl on Friday afternoon. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $60.19/bbl on November 21st. The WTI-Brent opened up a bit, settling at just under $4 by the end of last week.

One natural gas rig was recorded in the region. Natural gas futures (Henry Hub) were trading at $4.05/mmbtu by the end of last week. A little more than 10% of the production stream from the Bakken and Three Forks is attributable to natural gas and roughly half of that is NGLs.

McKenzie County continues to lead development with 66 rigs running. Mountrail, Williams and Dunn counties are the only other counties with more than 25 rigs running each. View the full list below under the Bakken Drilling by County section.

Activity is dominated by horizontal drilling:

  • 173 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 13 rigs are drilling directional wells
  • 2 rigs are drilling vertical wells

Bakken Oil & Gas News

Be sure to visit our Bakken Job Listings to search openings and come back weekly for updates or sign up for alerts – Daily or Weekly Email Alerts

Bakken Drilling by County

County State Previous Week Current Week County State Previous Week Current Week
MCKENZIE ND 61 66 MCLEAN ND 1 1
WILLIAMS ND 43 40 RENVILLE ND 1 1
MOUNTRAIL ND 29 29 STARK ND 2 1
DUNN ND 28 26 MCHENRY ND 0 1
RICHLAND MT 5 6 DANIELS MT 0 0
DIVIDE ND 7 5 SHERIDAN MT 0 0
ROOSEVELT MT 3 3 VALLEY MT 0 0
BILLINGS ND 3 3 WIBAUX MT 0 0
BOTTINEAU ND 3 2 GOLDEN VALLEY ND 0 0
BURKE ND 3 2 MERCER ND 0 0
DAWSON MT 1 1 WARD ND 0 0
FALLON MT 2 1

What is the Rig Count?

The Bakken Shale Rig Count is an index of the total number of oil & gas drilling rigs running across Montana and North Dakota. The rigs referred to in this article are for ALL drilling reported by Baker Hughes and not solely wells targeting the Bakken formation. All land rigs and onshore rig data shown here are based upon industry estimates provided by the Baker Hughes Rig Count.

North Dakota Breaks Records for Oil & Gas Activity – Sep. 2014

DMR: Bakken Rig Count Down Due to Lower Oil Prices
Bakken Oil Workers

Bakken Oil Workers | Click to Enlarge

The State of North Dakota hit 1,184,635 b/d oil in September 2014, setting a new record, according to the Department of Mineral Resources’ (DMR) November Director’s Cut. That’s 50,000 more b/d than August. During the same month, North Dakota also had record monthly gas production (1,403,448 mcf/d), and reported the highest number of producing wells to date (11,741).

But this month, the state’s record breaking oil and gas activity is overshadowed by falling crude oil prices. September was a relatively good month for oil at ~93.00 on average for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), but prices have dropped nearly ~$20 in the last two months.

According to the DMR’s report, released on November 14, 2014, the current rig count is down 15% in the states five most active counties:

  • Divide – down 54%
  • Dunn – down 29%
  • McKenzie – down 4%
  • Mountrail – down 24%
  • Williams- down 19%

DMR Director Lynn Helms blames the recent drop in the Bakken rig count directly on lower oil prices. The cost of drilling a Bakken well is high – anywhere between $8-million to $9-million. If the price of oil continues to fall, some producers, depending on their location in the play and a host of other factors, will scale back their Bakken drilling programs.

Read more: Bakken Study Analyzes Impact of Oil Prices on Development

Flaring Down in North Dakota Bakken

The natural gas flaring rate dropped from 27% in August to 24% in September. By comparison, the highest flared percent of natural gas was 36% in September of 2011.

New regulations have called for producers to reduce flaring to below 26%, starting with their October production figures. Helms recently pointed out that in addition to lower oil prices, flaring regulations could also impact Bakken development, because producers may face production restrictions if they fail to meet the new standards.

Beginning on June 1st, the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) began implementing its first in a series of policy changes aimed at reducing flaring in the Bakken.

Read more: NDIC Implements New Bakken Flaring Rule

Seismic Activity Up in North Dakota Bakken, But Leasing is Down

Seismic activity is up with seven surveys active or recording and five permitted. New leasing on the other hand has dropped off sharply. Most leases consist of renewals and top leases in the Bakken – Three Forks area.

How the Keystone XL Pipeline Would Impact the Bakken

Senate Votes Today On Bill to Approve Controversial Pipeline
Pipeline Photo

Pipeline Construction | Click to Enlarge

The Senate will vote today on a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, after the House voted to approve it last Friday. The controversial pipeline would carry heavy oil sands crude from Canada and lighter Bakken crude to the Gulf Coast refining market.

In 2013, the Congressional Research Service released a report that stated 12% of the Keystone XL Pipeline’s 830,000 b/d ultimate capacity has been set aside for the transport of Bakken Crude. The report further said the Keystone XL pipeline project would include a lateral pipeline, called the Bakken Marketlink, to carry oil from Baker, MT, to the hub in Cushing, OK.

Although the Keystone XL Pipeline would play a role in the Bakken, its significance in the region has diminished slightly over time. Despite a still lacking midstream infrastructure in the Bakken, several pipeline projects have advanced as the political thunderstorm has ensued surrounding the Keystone XL Pipeline.

In September of 2013, Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, the Bakken’s second largest producer, said the Keystone XL pipeline was no longer critical in an interview with Amy Harder from the National Journal. For full disclosure, at the time of the interview, Hamm’s Hiland Partners was pushing its Double H Pipeline, a 460-mile pipeline project from Dore, ND, to Guernsey, WY., which is slated to be online by January of 2015.

Read more: No Need for Keystone XL – Continental’s CEO Harold Hamm

Political Sway for the Keystone XL Pipeline

Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) is the Senate bill’s chief sponsor. Hoeven has pushed for the pipeline for several years, and touts its benefits (i.e. an increase in jobs, energy security and a decrease in crude by rail transport).

“The Keystone XL pipeline is about energy, jobs, helping to grow our economy and increasing national security by increasing energy security,” Hoeven said in a prepared statement.

Keystone Pipeline Could Alleviate Rail Congestion from Bakken Crude

Currently, just under 70% of all the oil produced in North Dakota, where much of the Bakken’s development is concentrated, is transported out of the state by rail, ultimately making its way for now to refining markets, primarily on the East and West Coasts. The Keystone XL Pipeline could alleviate some of the rail congestion being caused by the transport of oil, which would free up the rail service in North Dakota and across the midwest for the transport of other goods, primarily agricultural.

Bakken Shale Rig Stays Flat at 192

Could Drones be Coming to the Bakken Oil Patch?
Drone

Drone Image, Courtesy CSIRO

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count stayed flat at 192 rigs running across our coverage area by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 184 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 14 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent Bakken news, the Federal Aviation Administration and six other states, including Texas, home of the Eagle Ford Shale, have recently been selected as test sites for integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAV) or drones into the general population, according to the Bismarck Tribune.

With the green light from the FAA for testing in North Dakota, which for now is limited to agricultural applications, the next step could be in the Bakken oil patch.

Read more: Drones Coming to the Bakken Oil Patch?

The U.S. rig count increased by three to 1,928 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 350 rigs were targeting natural gas (six less than the previous week) and 1,578 were targeting oil in the U.S. (10 more than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 193 rigs are running in the Williston Basin across MT, ND, and SD. 181 are in ND alone.

Not all rigs counted in our census are drilling for the Bakken, but it’s close. The NDIC estimates 95% or more of activity in this region targets the Bakken and Three Forks formations.

Note: The NDIC reports 184 rigs are active in North Dakota. That figure is nine less than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, but 3 more than the company reports in North Dakota. On any given week, a certain number of rigs are in route to the next well location or idle waiting to drill the next well. The NDIC notes that around 14 rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs stayed flat at 192 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices decreased by ~$3 from the previous week, trading at $75.97/bbl on Friday afternoon. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $59.44/bbl on Nov. 14th. The WTI-Brent closed up a bit, settling at just over $3.50 by the end of last week.

One natural gas rig was recorded in the region. Natural gas futures (Henry Hub) were trading at $4.06/mmbtu by the end of last week. A little more than 10% of the production stream from the Bakken and Three Forks is attributable to natural gas and roughly half of that is NGLs.

McKenzie County continues to lead development with 61 rigs running. Mountrail, Williams and Dunn counties are the only other counties with more than 28 rigs running each. View the full list below under the Bakken Drilling by County section.

Activity is dominated by horizontal drilling:

  • 248 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 9 rigs are drilling directional wells
  • 8 rigs are drilling vertical wells

Bakken Oil & Gas News

Be sure to visit our Bakken Job Listings to search openings and come back weekly for updates or sign up for alerts – Daily or Weekly Email Alerts

Bakken Drilling by County

County State Previous Week Current Week County State Previous Week Current Week
MCKENZIE ND 61 61 DAWSON MT 1 1
WILLIAMS ND 43 43 MCLEAN ND 1 1
MOUNTRAIL ND 28 29 RENVILLE ND 1 1
DUNN ND 29 28 DANIELS MT 0 0
DIVIDE ND 7 7 SHERIDAN MT 0 0
RICHLAND MT 5 5 VALLEY MT 0 0
ROOSEVELT MT 3 3 WIBAUX MT 0 0
BILLINGS ND 3 3 GOLDEN VALLEY ND 0 0
BOTTINEAU ND 3 3 MERCER ND 0 0
BURKE ND 3 3 WARD ND 0 0
FALLON MT 2 2 MCHENRY ND 0 0
STARK ND 2 2

What is the Rig Count?

The Bakken Shale Rig Count is an index of the total number of oil & gas drilling rigs running across Montana and North Dakota. The rigs referred to in this article are for ALL drilling reported by Baker Hughes and not solely wells targeting the Bakken formation. All land rigs and onshore rig data shown here are based upon industry estimates provided by the Baker Hughes Rig Count.

Drones Coming to the Bakken Oil Patch?

Application of Drone Technology in the Oil Patch Could be Used for Inspecting Pipelines and Detecting Deadly H2S Gas
Drone

Drone Image, Courtesy CSIRO

Could drones be coming to the Bakken oil patch? It’s not such a far fetched idea. According to the Bismarck Tribune, the Federal Aviation Administration and six other states, including Texas, home of the Eagle Ford Shale, have recently been selected as test sites for integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAV) or drones into the general population.

Modern drone technology can trace its origins back to the U.S. military in the late 1950s, but the concept of drones has been around since the 1800s. The commercial use of drones has been met largely with resistance from the FAA, however, the agency did grant ConocoPhillips permission to use drones in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay oilfield, and in June of this year, granted a similar permission to British Petroleum.

How Drone Technology Could Be Used in the Oil Patch

With the green light from the FAA for testing in North Dakota, which for now is limited to agricultural applications, the next step could be in the Bakken oil patch. Only time will tell however if the technology will be approved for applications in North Dakota’s energy industry.

Drone technology offers many possibilities for the oil & gas industry, with a range of applications, from testing for deadly H2S gas to inspecting miles and miles of pipeline. Increased safety for personnel and cost savings to companies are just some of the positives offered by drone technology. Drones could also be used in the Bakken for inspecting roads, tank batteries, and monitoring activity at the drill-site.

As with any new technology, there are always concerns, and drones in particular have garnered their fair share of scrutiny on the issue of privacy. What issues do you believe drone technology would cause if introduced to the Bakken oil patch?

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