Bakken Shale Rig Count Increases by One to 182

Oil Rail Car Image
Oil Rail Car Image

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count increased by one to 182 rigs running by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 190 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 14 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent news, The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) released findings from a study in May of 2014 that examined the characteristics of Bakken crude oil and the standards required to transport by rail. In their report, the AFPM claims Bakken crude is within the safety standards for current rail car designs, and is comparable to other light crudes. The AFPM said the study found Bakken crudes are within the regulatory limits for pressure, flashpoint, boiling point and corrosivity for use in Department of Transportation (DOT) approved railcars.

Read moreAFPM Study Finds Bakken Crude Meets Current Safety Standards for Rail Car Design

The U.S. rig count increased by 6 to 1,861 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 326 rigs were targeting natural gas (3 more than the previous week) and 1,531 were targeting oil in the U.S. (3 more than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 182 rigs are running in the Williston Basin across MT, ND, and SD. 174 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 is 7 more than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, and 16 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 14 rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs increased by one to 182 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices increased by $2 to $102.16/bbl on Friday afternoon. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $88.69/bbl on May 16th. The WTI-Brent remained the same, settling at ~$7 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$4.42/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 69 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:

  • 167 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 14 rigs are drilling directional wells
  • 1 rig is 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.