Bakken Operators Slash Budgets for 2015

Bakken Producers Slash 2015 Budgets
Bakken Producers Slash 2015 Budgets

As the free-fall in crude prices continues, major Bakken operators are expressing their caution by slashing their budgets for 2015.

Marathon Oil is the latest giant to announce that its projected budget will curb exploration spending by a whopping 20% for 2015. Though the company still forecasts spending in upwards of $4.4 billion, the decrease is another sign that the spiraling oil prices are casting a dark shadow over the incredible growth that is taking place in the shale regions.

We remain confident in our investment opportunities in the three U.S. resource plays,” Marathon Oil President and Chief Executive Officer Lee Tillman said in a statement. “Our 2015 capital program is not opportunity constrained but will reflect sound discipline in managing cash flows in the current price environment.

Related: Eagle Ford and Bakken Drilling Permits Fall 30%

This news comes as oil plunged Thursday to an incredible $54.11, prices not seen since 2009. And Marathon is not the only E&P company to back off on growth plans. ConocoPhillips is also shaving 20% off for 2015, by deferring investment in unconventional plays. The company, however, is continuing to affirm its commitment to Bakken region, which continues to be a major source of growth for the company. Bakken’s largest operator, Continental Resources, also seems to be getting skittish as it announced Wednesday it will reduce spending in 2015 by $600 million and delay new rig starts while they wait out the current situation.

For more on 2015 budgets visit

Marathon Accelerates Activity in The Bakken and Other US Domestic Plays

Marathon's Bakken and Three Forks Acreage Map
Marathon's Bakken and Three Forks Acreage Map

Marathon is continuing to ramp up its presence in US domestic shale plays, with increased activity expected in the Bakken Shale through the end of 2014. In a company statement in late March 2014, officials revealed that Marathon hit its target of a 28-rig program across the Eagle Ford, Bakken and Oklahoma-Woodford Shale plays at the end of January.

Read more: Marathon Oil's Bakken Production Drives North American E&P Segment Income Up 38%

Marathon Oil’s CEO Lee Tillman said, “We continue to have high confidence in our ability to deliver on our North America long-term production growth targets underpinned by strong resource growth through downspacing and well optimization. In addition, we are progressing the evaluation and appraisal of co-development opportunities with the Eagle Ford’s Austin Chalk and the Bakken’s deeper Three Forks benches.

Marathon Bakken Operations Update

According to Marathon, the company's Bakken acreage accounts for ~800 mmboe in proven and probable reserves and resource potential. As of March 2014, Marathon had a 6-rig drilling program, and anticipates 75 - 85 net wells across the play in 2014. The company also expects to complete 20 - 24 net wells by the end of the year. The Bakken budget for 2014 remains at approximately $1 billion and 29% of the company' 2014 capital budget.

Marathon Targeting Deeper Three Forks Benches in Myrmidon Area

The Three Forks First Bench accounts for ~23% of proven and probable reserves. 45 gross operated wells are planned for the Three Forks in 2014. Six wells are planned in the lower benches of the Three Forks between 2014 - 2015. The initial focus will be on the Myrmidon area.


Marathon Oil's Bakken Production Drives North American E&P Income Up 38%

Marathon Oil Bakken Map
Marathon Oil Bakken Map

Marathon Oil's Bakken production helped drive the company's North American E&P segment income to $529 million in 2013, compared to $382 million in 2012.

The approximately ~38% increase was primarily due to higher liquids volumes from the Eagle Ford, Bakken and Oklahoma resource basins.

Read more:Marathon Oil Plans to Spend $1-Billion in the Bakken in 2014

Marathon Q4 2013 Production and 2014 Bakken Budget

[ic-l]Marathon Oil averaged approximately 40,000 net boe/d of production in the Bakken during the fourth quarter. That's approximately a ~5% increase from 38,000 net boe/d in the third quarter of 2013.

In 2014, Marathon will spend $1 billion of its $3.6 billion budget in North America in the Bakken. As a result, Bakken production is expected to grow to a little less than 50,000 boe/d.

Marathon Oil's average Bakken production by commodity is as follows:

  • 90% crude oil
  • 4% NGLs
  • 6% Natural Gas

Marathon Hits Q4 2013 Production Target

In the fourth quarter, the company reached total depth on 15 gross wells and brought 22 gross wells to sales, hitting its year-end exit rate estimate of 40,000 boe/d.

During 2013... our strong year-over-year net production growth in the top U.S. liquids resource plays — 136 percent in the Eagle Ford, 34 percent in the Bakken and 68 percent in the Oklahoma resource basins — demonstrated our ability to drive superior operating results,” said Lee M. Tillman, Marathon Oil’s president and CEO.

The company improved it's average time to drill a well in the Bakken by 16% compared to a year prior, averaging 15 days spud to total depth. Drilling and completion costs have decreased approximately 10% compared to the fourth quarter 2012.

Marathon Highlights for 2013

  • ~5% increase in production from Q3 (38,000 boe/d) - Q4 (40,000 boe/d)
  • North American E&P income Up ~38% from 2012 to $529 million thanks to unconventional drilling
  • 16% faster rate to drill a well than Q4 2012 (approx. 15 days)
  • Drilling and completion costs decreased 10%
  • Marathon sets capital budget in Bakken at $1 billion in 2014