Year in Review: Record Production

Bakken has a great 2014
Bakken has a great 2014

2014 was one for the record books as exploding production elevated the Bakken region to major-player status amongst the world's energy leaders.

January began as North Dakota set several all-time highs including having over 10,000 producing wells averaging 973,045 b/d and natural gas at 1,086,571 MCF/day.

By June, the NDIC announced it had hit the 1 million b/d in production. This long anticipated goal was slowed a bit by difficult weather in the winter but by the time it happened, the U/S. was positioned as the worlds largest oil producer. Even as oil prices began to decline throughout the fall, production continued to break records and by September, production averaged 1.2 million b/d.

The latest numbers from the NDIC show that at the end of the year, the Bakken and Three Forks regions alone averaged 1,118,010 barrels per day and boasted two more all time high records for producing wells (11,892) and gas (44,317,381 MCF = 1,429,593 MCF/day).

Whether this volume of prodcution can be maintained with current price declines is unclear, but the EIA predicts that drilling will slow for 2015 due the uncertainty.


North Dakota Hits Record Oil & Gas Production - June 2014

Bakken Oil Well
Bakken Oil Well

The State of North Dakota hit nearly 1.1-million b/d oil in June 2014, setting a new record, according to the Department of Mineral Resources' (DMR) August Director's Cut. During the same month, North Dakota also had record monthly gas production (1,253,154 mcf/d), and the highest recorded number of producing wells (11,079).

In April, North Dakota crossed the milestone 1-million b/d oil mark. The Bakken region, which includes portions of western Montana, exceeded the 1-million b/d mark at end of last year according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). It is the fourth region, along with the Gulf of Mexico, Eagle Ford, and Permian basins, producing more than 1 million b/d in the nation.

Read moreNorth Dakota Hits the 1-Million b/d Mark

About 28% of gas produced in May and June was flared, despite the completion of Hess' Tioga Gas Plant expansion in May 2014. DMR officials noted the plant has been operating below full capacity due to the delayed expansion of gas gathering from South of Lake Sakakawea.

The expansion project, which is part of a $1.5 billion investment Hess has made in the area for infrastructure improvements, began processing about 120-million standard cubic feet of gas per day (mmscf/d) in May, according to Hess. The company expects the plant will process at least 250 mmscf/d with the potential to increase beyond 300 mmscf/d.

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

Highlights from August 2014 Director’s Cut

  • May Oil – 1,040,469 b/d
  • June Oil – 1,092,617 b/d
  • May Gas – 1,192,860 mcf/d
  • June Gas – 1,253,154 mcf/d
  • May Producing Wells – 10,902
  • June Producing Wells – 11,079
  • 28% of produced gas in May and June flared


Bakken Production Sets Another Record for Producing Wells - February 2014

Bakken Production Chart - Goldman Sachs
Bakken Production Chart - Goldman Sachs

In February 2014, the number of producing wells in North Dakota reached an all-time record high of 10,186. The information was released in the North Dakota Industrial Commission's (NDIC) Director's Cut for Aril 2014. The number of producing wells in North Dakota has risen month over month since the beginning of the year.

Approximately 94% of all oil production in February came from the Bakken and Three forks formation - 892,399 b/d. Another 6% came from legacy conventional pools.

Read more: Bakken Production Sets Another Record - More than 10,000 ND Wells Producing

Weather had the most significant impact on production in January and February. In the month of February alone, there were 18 days with temperatures five or more degrees below normal. Four days were recorded where wind gusts were too high for completion work. During this time frame, Hess's Tioga natural gas plant expansion plans were delayed; and company officials cited poor weather conditions as the cause. As a result, approximately 100 wells in North Dakota had to be shut-in to reduce flaring. In March, Hess began selling gas from its' Tioga plant.

Read more: Hess to Begin Selling Bakken Natural Gas from Tioga Plant

NDIC Director Lynn Helms commented, “the drilling rig count was pretty much unchanged from January to February, and the number of well completions was up slightly from 60 to 70. Days from spud to initial production decreased 8 days to 114. Investor confidence appears to be growing. There were still over 100 wells shut in for the Tioga gas plant conversion in an attempt to minimize flaring, but the biggest production impact was still the weather.

Highlights from the NDIC's Director's Cut

  • Jan Oil - 935,126 b/d
  • Feb Oil - 951,340 b/d
  • Feb Oil - 892,399 b/d from the Bakken and Three Forks (94%)
  • Jan Gas - 1,013,142 MCF/day
  • Feb Gas - 1,063,756 MCF/day
  • Jan Producing Wells - 10,114
  • Feb Producing Wells - 10,186 (preliminary)(Record)
  • 7,065 Wells or 69% are now unconventional Bakken – Three forks wells
  • 3,121 wells or 31% produce from legacy conventional pools
  • Jan Permitting - 253 drilling and 0 seismic
  • Feb Permitting - 180 drilling and 5 seismic
  • Mar Permitting - 250 drilling and 2 seismic