Bakken Rig Count Flat at 173 - Operators Seeing Improvements - Nov 8, 2013

Halcon Bakken Drilling Spacing Unit
Halcon Bakken Drilling Spacing Unit

The Bakken rig count held flat at 173 rigs running over the past week. We'll reiterate what was written last week: More wells are being drilled at today's rig count than at any point in the history of Bakken development.

Several operators reported earnings this week and all had an operational improvement to share. EOG plans to use self-sourced sand to save costs, Marathon is drilling faster than ever, and Halcon's Bakken IP rates improved with a new higher fluid and sand volume completion.

The U.S. rig count increased 12 rigs from 1,742 to 1,754 running over the past week. A total of 365 rigs are targeting natural gas (5 more than last week) and 1,383 (7 more than last week) are targeting oil in the U.S. The remainder are drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.).175 rigs are running in the Williston Basin.

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.

Note: The NDIC reports 182 rigs are active in North Dakota. That is 20 more than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area. The difference is likely accounted for in the number of rigs actually working, rigs that might not be serviced by Baker Hughes AND areas outside of the Bakken fairway. 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 173. WTI oil prices were trading near $95/bbl to end the week - trading at virtually the same level as last week. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $76.19/bbl on Nov 8th. Keep an eye on the WTI to Brent spread. It's more than $11 for the second week in a row. That's more than enough to create demand to move crude by rail.

The natural gas rig count in the region held flat at zero. Natural gas futures (Henry Hub) were trading near $3.55/mmbtu on Friday. Natural gas delivered to the Northern Border pipeline in Watford City is trading near $3.00/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 57 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: 153 rigs are drilling horizontal wells, 16 rigs are drilling directional wells, and four rigs are drilling vertical wells.

Bakken Oil & Gas News

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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.