Bakken Rig Count Flat at 181 for the Third Week - Bakken Production Might Double

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

The Bakken rig count held flat at 181 rigs running over the past week. This marks the third week the rig count has held flat at 181 rigs.

Not all rigs counted in our census are drilling for the Bakken, but it's close. The NDIC estimates 95% of activity in this region targets the Bakken and Three Forks formations.

The director over at the NDIC made an interesting prediction last week. Lynn Helms believes Bakken Production Will Double by 2017. If the milestone is hit, North Dakota will be producing over 1.6 million b/d.

The U.S. rig count increased 12 rigs from 1,744 to 1,756 running over the past week. A total of 378 rigs are targeting natural gas (2 more than last week) and 1,372 are targeting oil in the U.S. The remainder are drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 183 rigs are running in the Williston Basin.

Note: The NDIC reports 182 rigs are active in North Dakota. That is 12 more than Baker Hughes reports. The difference is likely accounted for in the number of rigs actually working and rigs that might not be serviced by Baker Hughes. 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 more than 10 rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs running held flat at 181 in the region. WTI oil prices were trading near $103/bbl on Friday. The commodity has held above $100/bbl for 13 weeks now. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $88.44/bbl on Oct 4th.

The natural gas rig count in the region held flat at zero. Natural gas futures (Henry Hub) were trading near $3.60/mmbtu on Friday. Natural gas delivered to the Northern Border pipeline in Watford City is trading near $3/mmbtu. A little more than 10% of the production stream from the Bakken and Three Forks is attributable to natural gas.

McKenzie County led development with 63 rigs running. Dunn, Mountrail, and Williams counties are the only other counties with more than 20 rigs running. View the full list below.

Activity is dominated by horizontal drilling: 159 rigs are drilling horizontal wells, 16 rigs are drilling directional wells, and six rigs are drilling vertical wells.

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Bakken Drilling by County

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 and/or Smith Service Co's (Schlumberger) Smith Rig Count.