Bakken Shale Rig Count Decreases by Five to 177

North Dakota Bakken Three Forks Map
North Dakota Bakken Three Forks Map

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count decreased by five to 177 rigs running across our coverage area by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 188 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 16 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent Bakken news, at the Thirtieth Annual Sanford C. Bernstein Conference on May 29, 2014, EOG Resources CEO Bill Thomas indicated the company doesn't see another shale play of the same magnitude as the Bakken or Eagle Ford on the horizon. According to Thomas, the Bakken and the Eagle Ford currently produce 75% of all horizontal oil production in the U.S., but he notes the two plays are beginning to mature, and the rate of growth in both plays is beginning to slow.

Read more: Is the Bakken America's Last Oil Boom?

The U.S. rig count increased by nine to 1,866 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 326 rigs were targeting natural gas (one more than the previous week) and 1,536 were targeting oil in the U.S. (eight more than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 178 rigs are running in the Williston Basin across MT, ND, and SD. 169 are in ND alone.

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

Note: The NDIC reports 188 rigs are active in North Dakota. That is 10 more than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, and 19 more than the company reports in North Dakota. The difference is likely accounted for in the number of rigs actually working, rigs that might not be serviced by Baker Hughes AND rigs in 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 around 16 rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs decreased  by five to 177 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices decreased by $2 to $102.79/bbl on Friday afternoon. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $90.19/bbl on May 29th. The WTI-Brent closed up slightly, settling at ~$8 by the end of last week.

The natural gas rig count in the region held flat at zero. Natural gas futures (Henry Hub) were trading at $4.56/mmbtu by the end of last week. A little more than 10% of the production stream from the Bakken and Three Forks is attributable to natural gas and roughly half of that is NGLs.

McKenzie County continues to lead development with 64 rigs running. Dunn, Mountrail, and Williams counties are the only other counties with more than 20 rigs running each. View the full list below under the Bakken Drilling by County section.

Activity is dominated by horizontal drilling:

  • 160 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 15 rigs are drilling directional wells
  • 2 rigs are drilling a vertical well

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.