Bakken Shale Rig Count Increases by Four to 197

Bakken Oil Well
Bakken Oil Well

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count increased by four to 197 rigs running across our coverage area by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 196 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around eight of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent Bakken news, the oil & gas renaissance in the U.S. has nearly catapulted the country to the top spot for oil production in the world, and most experts believe the U.S. will hit this target by next year. But is it possible that the country and the Bakken has too much of a good thing? When it comes to natural gas that may be the case.

According to the BP 2014 statistical world energy review, the U.S. is currently the top natural gas producing country in the world at 328 Bcf/d. Over the past five years, natural gas production has grown over 20% in the U.S., thanks in large part to the shale revolution. But the price of natural gas has struggled to break $4/mmbtu, and oil companies in North Dakota’s and Montana’s Bakken Shale and the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas have flared much of their produced natural gas in favor of capturing oil, which is a much higher valued commodity.

Read more: Bakken Natural Gas - Too Much of a Good Thing?

The U.S. rig count stayed flat at 1,931 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 329 rigs were targeting natural gas (nine less than the previous week) and 1,601 were targeting oil in the U.S. (9 more than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 198 rigs are running in the Williston Basin across MT, ND, and SD. 189 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 196 rigs are active in North Dakota. That is two more than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, and seven 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 eight rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs increased by four to 197 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices decreased slightly from the previous week, trading at $92.48/bbl on Friday afternoon. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $74.19/bbl on Sept. 19th. The WTI-Brent closed up a bit, settling at just under $6 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 $3.84/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, and Williams counties are the only other counties with more than 30 rigs running each. View the full list below under the Bakken Drilling by County section.

Activity is dominated by horizontal drilling:

  • 178 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 19 rigs are drilling directional wells
  • 0 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.