Bakken Shale Rig Count Decreases by Three to 188

Falling Oil Price
Falling Oil Price

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count decreased by three t0 188 rigs running across our coverage area by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 190 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 15 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up. In recent Bakken news, analysts and industry leaders are worried about the effects low oil prices will have on the booming shale industry, including investment and drilling interests in the Bakken play. Since extracting shale oil is currently a more expensive process than conventional production methods, Bakken producers may be more vulnerable to lower crude prices.

Read more: Falling Oil Prices: How Low is too Low for Bakken Producers?

The U.S. rig count decreased by 3 to 1,920 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 344 rigs were targeting natural gas (flat from the previous week) and 1,575 were targeting oil in the U.S. (three less than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.).189rigs are running in the Williston Basin across MT, ND, and SD. 180 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 190 rigs are active in North Dakota. That figure is one more than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, and ten 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 15 rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs decreased by three to 187 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices decreased by ~$3.00 from the previous week, trading at $64.33/bbl on Monday morning. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $49.44/bbl on December 5th. The WTI-Brent stayed flat, 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 $3.70/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 67 rigs running. Mountrail, Williams and Dunn counties are the only other counties with more than 27 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
  • 13 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.