Bakken Shale Rig Count Increases by Three to 191

ND Pump Jack Photo
ND Pump Jack Photo

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count increased by three t0 191 rigs running across our coverage area by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 185 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 14 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent Bakken news, research consultancy IHS Energy reports most shale plays are economic and ~80% of potential drilling in 2015 would remain strong at WTI crude oil prices as low as $70 per barrel.

WTI traded at ~$67 today, a nearly 40% drop from June of 2014. As a result, Bakken operators, including Emerald Oil, Inc., have already announced plans to potentially scale back their drilling programs in 2015.

North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) Director Lynn Helms updated lawmakers in October on the status of oil & gas development in the state. Helms said two factors could negatively impact oil production – lower oil prices and new flaring regulations.

Read more: IHS: U.S. Shale Production Growth Will Slow, But Still Remain High

The U.S. rig count increased by decreased by 12 to 1,917 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 344 rigs were targeting natural gas (11 less than the previous week) and 1,572 were targeting oil in the U.S. (two less than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.).191 rigs 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 185 rigs are active in North Dakota. That figure is six less than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, and five 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 14 rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs increased by three to 191 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices decreased by ~$10.00 from the previous week, trading at $67.48/bbl on Monday morning. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $49.69/bbl on November 28th. 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 $4.05/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 27 rigs running each. View the full list below under the Bakken Drilling by County section.

Activity is dominated by horizontal drilling:

  • 176 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 13 rigs are drilling directional wells
  • 2 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.