Bakken Pipeline & Midstream News

Bakken Shale Rig Count Stays Flat at 197

Enbridge's Sandpiper Pipeline Delayed Until 2017
Pipeline Construction

Pipeline Construction | Click to Enlarge

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count stayed flat at 197 rigs running across our coverage area by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 188 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around six of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent Bakken news, permitting problems in Minnesota are delaying Calgary-based Enbridge Energy Partners LP from building a 612-mile pipeline from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company disclosed the delay of the $2.6-billion Sandpiper pipeline in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this week.

Read more: Enbridge’s Sandpiper Pipeline Delayed

The U.S. rig count decreased by nine to 1,922 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 330 rigs were targeting natural gas (eight less than the previous week) and 1,591 were targeting oil in the U.S. (1 less than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 198 rigs are running in the Williston Basin across MT, ND, and SD. 189 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 188 rigs are active in North Dakota. That is ten less than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, and one less 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 six rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs stayed flat at 197 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices decreased by nearly $3 from the previous week, trading at $90.15/bbl on Friday afternoon. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $72.69/bbl on Oct. 2nd. The WTI-Brent closed up a bit, settling at just over $2 by the end of last week.

The natural gas rig count in the region held flat at zero. Natural gas futures (Henry Hub) were trading at $4.02/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, and Williams counties are the only other counties with more than 30 rigs running each. View the full list below under the Bakken Drilling by County section.

Activity is dominated by horizontal drilling:

  • 178 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 18 rigs are drilling directional wells
  • 1 rigs are drilling vertical wells

Bakken Oil & Gas News

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Bakken Drilling by County

County State Previous Week Current Week County State Previous Week Current Week

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.

Enbridge’s Sandpiper Pipeline Delayed

Minnesota Permitting Problems Could Push Back Pipeline Construction By Nearly One Year
Pipeline Construction

Pipeline Construction | Click to Enlarge

Permitting problems in Minnesota are delaying Calgary-based Enbridge Energy Partners LP from building a 612-mile pipeline from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company disclosed the delay of the $2.6-billion Sandpiper pipeline in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this week.

The Sandpiper pipeline is designed to move 225,000 b/d from North Dakota to Clearbrook, MN, and then transport up to 375,000 b/d from the Minnesota location to another oil hub in Superior, Wisconsin. At the end of last year, oil giant Marathon reached an agreement whereby Marathon will fund 37.5% of the Sandpiper pipeline and gain a 27% interest in Enbridge’s North Dakota System.

Read more: Enbridge’s Sandpiper Pipeline Gains Anchor Shipper in Marathon Petroleum – Open Season

The delay comes after the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission requested an expanded study on the environmental impacts of six possible routes of pipeline. Opponents to the pipeline suggest the planned route crosses many environmentally-sensitive areas in northern Minnesota, including rivers, lakes and wetlands.

At the Enbridge Annual Investment Community Conference, SVP-Major Projects Byron Neiles, said, ” even though we’ve secured all of the required approvals in North Dakota and close to 100% of the right-of-way, and close to 90% of the — and over 90% of the lands required in Minnesota, the regulator there three weeks ago reversed a decision it took earlier this spring denying opponents’ motions to extend the process as well as to bifurcate or decouple the route and need processes of the review. Moreover, it required that these processes be conducted one after the other rather than in parallel.”

The Sandpiper Pipeline is expected to be in service some time in 2017. Estimates at the end of last year were for the first quarter of 2016.

Enbridge’s current five-year forecast includes a record $44-billion in capital expenditures.

Read more at and

Enterprise Seeks Commitments for Bakken-Cushing Oil Pipeline

Initial Capacity of 340,000 b/d Crude Oil
Pipeline Construction

Pipeline Construction | Click to Enlarge

Enterprise Products Partners L.P. began a binding open commitment period in early Sept. of 2014 to determine shipper demand for capacity on a proposed new pipeline from the Williston Basin of North Dakota to the Cushing hub in Oklahoma. The 30-inch diameter, 1200-mile pipeline is expected to have an initial capacity of approximately 340,000 b/d of crude oil, expandable to more than 700,000 .

Company officials say the Bakken-to-Cushing pipeline would also serve the Powder River and Denver-Julesburg (“DJ”) Basins, and have the capability to transport up to six grades of crude oil and products, including Rockies Condensate and Processed Condensate. Subject to sufficient customer commitments, the pipeline is expected to begin service in stages, starting with the DJ-to-Cushing portion in the fourth quarter of 2016, and should be fully operational by the third quarter of 2017.

“This pipeline offers a reliable, safe, and economical solution that promotes continued development of some of our nation’s most prolific producing areas and reduces the need for imports of crude oil,” said A.J. “Jim” Teague, EVP and COO of Enterprise’s general partner. “By leveraging the capabilities of our existing midstream network, the Bakken-to-Cushing pipeline would provide flow assurance and market choice. At Cushing, shippers would have access to one of the most liquid crude oil trading hubs in the world, as well as a comprehensive network of storage and pipelines serving the U.S. Gulf Coast refining complex and waterborne transportation options.”


Pembina Acquires Bakken Midstream Assets – $650 Million

Deal Expected to Close in the Fourth Quarter of 2014
Saskatchewan Ethane Processing Plant

Saskatchewan Ethane Processing Plant|Click to Enlarge

Pembina Pipeline Corp. announced in early Sept. 2014 it will acquire Bakken midstream assets for $650-million from entities affiliated with Riverstone Holdings, LLC.

The deal includes the Vantage pipeline system, which carries up to 40,000 b/d of natural gas liquids from the North Dakota Bakken to Alberta, where it is connected to the Alberta Ethane Gathering System pipeline. Also included the deal are Mistral Midstream Inc’s interest in a Saskatchewan ethane processing plant. The plant is expected to produce 4,500 b/d of ethane, and it will connect into Vantage system through a pipeline lateral that is also currently under construction. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Pembina anticipates additional capital expenditures of approximately $91.5-million (net to Pembina) prior to the end of 2015 in connection with the Transaction in order to complete the construction of the ethane processing plant and the associated gathering and delivery system.


In addition to the Bakken acquisition, the company also announced plans to build a 37,500 b/d propane export terminal in Portland, Oregon, for $500-million. The facility is expected to be in service by 2018.




Quantum Energy, Inc. Secures Two Bakken Refinery Sites

Expected Production of 7,000 b/d Diesel Fuel from Each Facility

At the end of August, 2014, Tempe, AZ-based Quantum Energy, Inc. secured two refinery sites to serve the Bakken. The refineries are part of a proposed five refinery plan the company has for the area.

One of the refineries will be located in Richland County, MT, near Fairview and is accessible to the Northstar Transload currently under construction in North Dakota. The other refinery will be located in Baker, MT.

Quantum President Stan Wilson, said, “each of our proposed Energy Centers will produce 7,000 b/d of diesel fuel to be sold into a local market that has a demand for 75,000 b/d in the western North Dakota and eastern Montana markets. The 14,000 b/d that these two Energy Centers will produce are easily absorbed in the ever expanding Bakken region.”



Hess to form MLP for Bakken Midstream Assets

25% Bakken Production Growth Year-Over-Year in Q2 2014
Hess' Bakken Acreage Map

Hess’ Bakken Acreage Map

At the end of July, 2014, Hess Corp. announced its plan to spin off pipeline and storage assets, mostly in the Bakken area, into a MLP (master limited partnership) next year. The effort is a strategic move for the company to generate cash and further production growth in the Bakken.

The company expects to file a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the fourth quarter and move forward with an IPO (initial public offering) of the MLP in the first quarter of 2015. Hess said it will own the general partner of the MLP, all of its incentive distribution rights and a majority of its limited partner interests after completion of the IPO. With an MLP, the partnership does not pay taxes from the profit, and the money is only taxed when unitholders receive distributions.

Assets that would be held by the MLP include the Hess’ Tioga natural gas processing plant; a rail loading terminal in Tioga along with associate rail cars; a crude oil truck and pipeline terminal in Tioga; and a propane storage cavern and related rail and truck loading and storage terminal in Mentor, Minnesota.

Read more: Hess Production to Soar in Bakken by the End of 2014

The announcement was concurrent with the company’s second quarter earnings, which indicated a 25 % growth in Bakken production year-over-year (80,000 boe/d). During the quarter, the company brought 53 gross operated wells online. Drilling and completion costs were down 12% year-over-year.


Summit Midstream Expanding Bakken System – $300 Million

Includes Four Projects Across Williams and Divide Counties

Summit Midstream Partners announced in June of 2014 that it will spend $300 million on four new development projects involving oil, water and natural gas gathering in the Bakken Shale play.

The new projects will further expand the companies footprint in Williams and Divide counties. In June of 2013, Summit announced plans to spend $60 million on development projects in North Dakota.

Read more: Summit Midstream Expanding Bakken System in Williams and Divide Counties

One of the Summit’s new projects is geared towards providing customers with additional crude oil interconnects. Meadowlark, a wholly owned operating subsidiary of Summit, will construct a new crude oil truck unloading station. With this project, Meadowlark will provide its customers with a new interconnect for up to 50,000 b/d of crude oil deliverability, providing access to new downstream markets on both the East and West Coasts.

“We expect our new organic development projects will further enhance Summit’s position as a leading, independent midstream provider in the Bakken Shale,” said CEO Steve Newby.

Another of the company’s recently announced projects is a new 240 mile pipeline, which officials say will reduce flaring in North Dakota, as the pipeline gathers natural gas in a remote area currently lacking in infrastructure. The pipeline will be constructed by Tioga Midstream, a subsidiary of Summit Midstream. When it is completed, it is expected to have a total system capacity of 20,000 b/d of crude oil, 25,000 b/d of water, and 14 million cf/d of associated natural gas. The project is supported by a 10 year agreement with an acreage dedication of 114,000 acres.


Worthington Industries Acquires Tank Storage Division of Steffes Corporation in North Dakota

Steffes Corporation Generated 25 Million in Revenue in 2013
Bakken Oilfield StorageTanks

Bakken Oilfield Storage Tanks | Click to Enlarge

Worthington Industries expands its reach in the Bakken, purchasing the tank storage manufacturing division of Steffes Corporation for an undisclosed amount in late March 2014. Steffes Corporation manufactures oilfield and salt water storage tanks for clients in the Bakken Shale and Williston Basin, and generated $25-million in revenue in 2013. Worthington will acquire Steffes Corporation’s Dickinson, N.D. plant in the deal, which currently employs 35 people.

[Read more...]

MDU Resources’ Natural Gas “Dakota Pipeline” Update – March 2014

Open Season For Pipeline Ends May 30th
Bakken Natural Gas Pipeline to Minnesota - WBI Energy

Bakken Natural Gas Pipeline to Minnesota – WBI Energy | Click to Enlarge

The open season for MDU Resources’ natural gas “Dakota Pipeline” will end on May 30th, but the project may not have any legs. In a Reuters report, company officials indicated at a New Orleans energy conference in March that they are currently lacking enough binding commitments for the project. The company began it’s open season on January 30th for the $650 – $700 million project, which is intended to transport natural gas through North Dakota to interconnection points in Northwestern Minnesota.

Read more: WBI Energy’s Bakken Natural Gas Pipeline Enters Open Season

Dave Goodin, MDU’s CEO, told Reuters, “we’re encouraged by the reaction of the marketplace, but I’d be getting ahead of myself if I said we’re ready to build. We need some binding commitments.”

WBI Energy, a subsidiary of MDU Resources, revealed in a press release in January that construction on the proposed pipeline could begin in 2016, with a completion date of 2017. Despite the lack of current commitments, Goodin is encouraged about the pipeline, but admits in the Reuter’s report that the challenge is for the marketplace to see that far in advance. The natural gas rig count in the Bakken has held flat at -0- for some time, and the price of natural gas since the beginning of 2014 has hovered between $4 – $6/mmbtu.

The pipeline makes sense for the region from a flaring standpoint according to the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC). Currently, ~30% of all natural gas produced in the state is flared, and without effective infrastructure in-place, no other economically viable choice exists for companies targeting the oil rich Bakken Shale.


Hess To Begin Selling Bakken Natural Gas from Tioga Plant

Winter Weather Delayed Plant Expansion According to Company Officials
Hess' Bakken Acreage Map

Hess’ Bakken Acreage Map

Hess announced in March 2014 that it will begin selling natural gas from its Tioga, North Dakota, plant. According to the company, expansion plans for the plant have been delayed due to poor weather conditions.

In a Reuters article, Hess spokesman, John Roper, said, “due to the unusually harsh winter weather, we’re slightly behind our initial plans, but we expect to start selling residue gas this month.”

The recent upgrade to the Tioga plant includes additions to ethane recovery, full fractionation and sales of natural gas liquids, according to Hess filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. At the beginning of the year, the company earmarked $350 million for the expansion of the plant.

According to the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC), in the first part of this year, ~100 wells in North Dakota had to be shut down to reduce flaring. In the liquids-rich Bakken Shale, that resulted in an impact on oil production. The Hess plant expansion could help alleviate the flaring issue, and bring some of the wells back online. The company is hoping to meet revised production estimates of 250M cf/day over the next 12-24 months.

North Dakota’s oil production rose by about 6,500 b/d to about 935,000 bpd in January 2014, Department of Mineral Resources data showed last week. Output in December dropped by 50,000 bpd from the month before.

Hess Tioga, North Dakota Plant Expansion Highlights

  • Hess announced that it would begin selling natural gas from its Tioga, North Dakota plant in March 2014
  • Weather delayed the expansion
  • Hess planning to meet revised production estimates of 250M cf/day over the next 12-24 months