Bakken Operators Look Optimistically to 2017

The Bakken rig count remains stalled, but some major operators in the Bakken Shale Play plan to increase activity in 2017.

Related:  Continental Resources Raises Expectations for remainder of 2016

As the year comes to a close, major Bakken operators are reporting their plans for 2017, with some announcing they will increase spending and drilling activity.

  • Continental Resources plans to work down its inventory of 29 drilled but uncompleted Bakken wells in 2017. The company expects continued low operating costs in the new year with an estimated budget of $1.1 billion. The company has a new completion design that has resulted in a record 30-day initial rates for Continental-operated Bakken wells in 2016.
  • EOG Resources is increasing its crude oil organic production growth outlook through 2020, which includes growth in the Bakken. In addition to the growth illustrated in the outlook, the company continues to evaluate high-quality emerging plays through its ongoing exploration efforts.
  • Enerplus Corp. will increase its North Dakota oil production by 25% in 2017. 70% of the company's $400 million budget will be spent in North Dakota. 
  • ConocoPhillips has seen unexpected production increases and recovery rates from its Bakken operations, which caused the company to speed up their timeline of adding three rigs to the Bakken. The improved characteristics of its Bakken operations pushed the team to secure drilling rigs and pressure pumping crews earlier than its originally scheduled plans for 2017. 
  • John Hess, CEO of Hess Corp. spoke optimistically about the Bakken in the company's third quarter earnings call and indicated they plan more rigs for the Bakken are in the 2017 
Our Bakken team continues to offer excellent operating results and returns in the core of the play that are competitive with the Permian and Eagle Ford. Our high-quality Bakken acreage, industry-leading drilling and completion costs, and advantaged infrastructure position set up our Bakken assets to be a major contributor to the company’s future production and cash flow growth.
— John Hess, CEO of Hess Corp.

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count fell by one this week with Baker Hughes reporting 31 rigs running across our coverage area by midday Friday.