Bakken Shale Counties Losing People

Bakken population

There are fewer people living in individual Bakken Shale counties, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Related: North Dakota Faces $2 Billion Loss of Revenue

The U.S. Census Bureau released new data last week showing every county in the Bakken Shale region experienced a decrease in population between 2015 and 2016.

The total population decline in these counties was 5283 people.

Dunn County in North Dakota lost the greatest percentage if it's population (6%) between 2015 and 2016. Dunn has consistently had some of the highest rig counts in the region for the past few years.

The biggest loss in total population numbers was Ward County in North Dakota, which dropped by 1065 in one year's time.  

The state population has seen a slight increase, with the agency reporting Montana's population increased from 1,032,949 in 2015 to 1,042,520 in 2016. North Dakota had a population of 757,952 in 2016, an increase over 756,927 in 2015.

 Population in Bakken Counties

Population in Bakken Counties

The decrease in population is in stark contrast to the rush that came when the shale boom exploded in 2009, when the number of men in North Dakota jumped 14% (46,000), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. During that time, the state's population grew 12% with men accounting for two-thirds of that growth. The population of women grew 9% (30,000).

In 2015, we reported that Williston, N.D., experienced population growth ten times the normal rate, according to a recent study commissioned by the city. But the latest figures from the Census Bureu is showing a decline from 26,977 in 2015 to 26,426 a year later. 

Read more: North Dakota "Man-Rush"

Fallout from low crude prices made its way through the oil and gas industry throughout 2015 and 2016, with Bakken companies removing over 150 rigs from operation during that time. As prices stabilized, rig counts are slowing increasing. For last week, Baker Hughes reported 46 rigs running through our coverage area by Friday midday

Bakken Oil Now Flowing through Dakota Access Pipeline

Dakota Access Map

Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. has announced that the Dakota Access Pipeline is now pumping Bakken crude oil.

Related: Related: Violence Erupts at Pipeline Site

In a recent press release, the Dallas-based company said that the 1,200-mile line carrying Bakken oil to distribution points in Illinois began service on June 1st.

The highly controversial, 1,172 mile pipeline project cost an estimated $3.8 billion and will serve the North Dakota counties of Mountrail, Williams and McKenzie.

The Dakota Access Pipeline and the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline from Illinois to the Gulf Coast together make up the $4.8 billion Bakken Pipeline system.

Dakota Access Quick Facts

  • Construction of the pipeline has created roughly 12,000 jobs
  • Spurred hundreds of millions of dollars investment in heavy equipment and thousands of construction jobs to the state.
  • Over $3.54 billion spent on construction
  • Will continue to invest hundreds of millions a month into the U.S. economy
  • Once in operation, it will transport 470 000 bpd 
  • Has generated an estimated $156 million in sales and income taxes during construction, and $55 million in property taxes annually
Transporting crude from North Dakota to multiple major U.S. markets in a more direct, cost-effective, safer and more environmentally responsible manner than either rail or truck.
— Energy Transfer Partners

With production in the region expected to rise, some analysts predict that the DALP will reach 75 percent of capacity by year-end 2017. ESAI Energy is one source predicting that Bakken will continue to experience production growth through next year. 

Dakota Access Pipeline to Begin Operations

Pipeline COntroversy

After three years, dozens of town hall meetings, thousands of public comments and numerous violent protests, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is scheduled to begin operations on June 1st.

Energy Transfer Partners announced plans to build the pipeline project back in 2014. Originally expected to be completed by the end of 2016, completion was delayed when major protests and legal wranglings disrupted the construction schedule.  

Related: Violence Erupts at Pipeline Site

The $3.8 billion project includes a 1,172-mile underground pipeline that extends from the Bakken/Three Forks production area in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The DAPL will transport 470 000 bpdof light crude oil from North Dakota across the region.

With production in the region expected to rise, some analysts predict that the DALP will reach 75 percent of capacity by year-end 2017. ESAI Energy is one source predicting that Bakken will continue to experience production growth through next year. 

Until oil prices get closer to $60 producers will continue to target the Bakken core where well performance is very high. We also expect a further drawdown in the DUC inventory for the remainder of 2017 since most DUCs provide adequate rates of return at prices around $50 per barrel.
— Elisabeth Murphy, analyst at ESAI Energy

Dakota Access Quick Facts

  • Construction of the pipeline has created roughly 12,000 jobs
  • Spurred hundreds of millions of dollars investment in heavy equipment and thousands of construction jobs to the state.
  • Over $3.54 billion spent on construction
  • Will continue to invest hundreds of millions a month into the U.S. economy
  • Once in operation, it will transport 470 000 bpd 
  • Has generated an estimated $156 million in sales and income taxes during construction, and $55 million in property taxes annually

Pipeline Protests Cost Taxpayers

Officials of Morton County, where thousands gathered for the longstanding protest against the pipeline construction, have reported that protests will cost North Dakota taxpayers nearly $40 million in property damage and personnel. Since the cleanup began, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reportedly hauled out close to 1,000 dumpsters filled with trash, personal items and old building material and spent $1.1 million

Pipeline Protests Will Cost Taxpayers Millions

 ND Taxpayers pay millions

ND Taxpayers pay millions

North Dakota taxpayers must foot the bill for nearly $40 million from the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Related: Dakota Access Protest Camps Evacuated

After almost a year of tension and confrontation, the construction site of the Dakota Access has emptied of protestors, but their presence will continue to be felt.

Morton County officials have reported that property damage and personnel will cost North Dakota taxpayers nearly $40 million. Additional funds will be needed to house the over 750+ people who were arrested at the site.  

Since the cleanup began, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reportedly hauled out close to 1,000 dumpsters filled with trash, personal items and old building material and spent $1.1 million

Demonstrators have been protesting the 1,172 mile  Dakota Access Pipeline for nearly a year, with some estimates numbering the crowd in the thousands. While the main focus of the protests were in Cannonball, people from all over the world joined in solidarity including protests in Los Angeles, Seattle and Dallas, home of Energy Transfer Partners

Whiting Petroleum Allocates $580 Million for Bakken

Whiting Petroleum plans to spend $580 million in the Bakken for 2017.

Related: Whiting Petroleum Sells Bakken Assets

Whiting Petroleum’s capital budget for 2017 is almost double that of last year, with the company expecting to spend $1.1 billion. $580 million is planned for activity in the Williston Basin, including running five rigs in the region.

In 2016, we worked to position the company for strong growth through balance sheet improvement and a focus on operational improvements that resulted in a 42% increase in per well productivity over 2015. In 2017, we are focused on increasing production, reserves and net asset value through a capital efficient plan that further enhances our balance sheet metrics through growth. We project a total capital budget of $1.1 billion in 2017. Based on this capital plan, we forecast that production grows 23% from first quarter to fourth quarter 2017.
— James J. Volker, Chairman, President and CEO

Data available from the North Dakota Industrial Commission shows Whiting is the top performer in the Bakken. For 2016, Whiting reported the following for its Bakken/Three Forks assets:

  • Q4 averaged 108,850 BOE/d, an increase of 3% over the third quarter. 
  • Q4 2016 Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities of $236.8 Million Exceeded Capex by $114.9 Million
  • Q4 2016 Average Production of 118,890 BOE/d Above High End of Guidance; Williston Basin Production Grew 3% Sequentially
  • Q4 2016 LOE at Low End of Guidance at $8.01 per BOE
  • Full-Year 2016 Capex on Target at $554 million
  • Williston Basin 90-Day Average Production Rate per Well in 2016 Increased 42% over 2015 and 84% over 2014
  • Large Volume Completions Continued to Exceed Expectations with a 30-Day Average Rate per Well of 1,754 BOE/d in the Fourth Quarter

2017

Whiting projects a 2017 capital budget of $1.1 billion, with plans to invest $1,060 million of the capital budget on development activity in its core Williston Basin and DJ Basin areas. The company will run five rigs and spend $580 million on development activities in the Williston Basin and run one rig and spend $420 million on development activities in the DJ Basin.

In November, Whiting Petroleum announced its intention to sell its Bakken midstream assets to an affiliate of Tesoro Logistics Rockies for $375 million. The $375 deal included Whiting's 50% stake in the Robinson Lake natural gas–processing plant along with the associated natural gas–gathering system located in Mountrail County, North Dakota.