Bakken Shale Rig Count Decreases by One to 187

Oil torch against the cloudy sky
Oil torch against the cloudy sky

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count decreased by one t0 187 rigs running across our coverage area by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 181 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 12 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up. In recent Bakken news, a new study led by researchers from The University of Texas hopes to provide clues to better understand the correlation between well technology and methane emissions during the natural gas production process.

The findings, published December 9th in Environmental Science & Technology, indicate that the overwhelming majority of methane emissions are from two types of wells; those that use pneumatic devices and those that use liquid unloading.

The U.S. rig count decreased by 27 to 1,893 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 346 rigs were targeting natural gas (up 2 from the previous week) and 1,546 were targeting oil in the U.S. (29 less than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.).188rigs are running in the Williston Basin across MT, ND, and SD. 179 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 181 rigs are active in North Dakota. That figure is seven less than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, and two more than the company reports in North Dakota. 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 12 rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs decreased by one to 186 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices decreased by ~$6.00 from the previous week, trading at $57.99/bbl on Friday afternoon. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $43.69/bbl on December 12th. The WTI-Brent stayed the same, settling at just under $4 by the end of last week.

One natural gas rig was recorded in the region. Natural gas futures (Henry Hub) were trading at $3.74/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 66 rigs running. Mountrail, Williams and Dunn counties are the only other counties with more than 26 rigs running each. View the full list below under the Bakken Drilling by County section.

Activity is dominated by horizontal drilling:

  • 172 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 12 rigs are drilling directional wells
  • 3 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.