Bakken Shale Rig Count Increases by Three to 192

Bakken Oilfield StorageTanks
Bakken Oilfield StorageTanks

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count increased by three to 192 rigs running across our coverage area by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 194 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 16 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent Bakken news, the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) plans to hold a public hearing in the next few weeks to determine ways to reduce the volatility of Bakken crude before it is stored or transported.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported North Dakota officials are considering requiring oil & gas companies to treat Bakken crude before it is loaded onto trains. Stabilization, which is common in similar shale plays like the Ealge Ford Shale, is also being discussed among officials.

Read more: NDIC Considers Bakken Crude Treatment

The U.S. rig count increased by five to 1,913 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 321 rigs were targeting natural gas (five more than the previous week) and 1,589 were targeting oil in the U.S. (one more than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 194 rigs are running in the Williston Basin across MT, ND, and SD. 185 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 194 rigs are active in North Dakota. That is the same figure Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, but 9 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 16 rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs increased by three to 192 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices stayed relatively flat from the previous week, trading at $97.09/bbl on Friday afternoon. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $82.19/bbl on Aug. 14th. The WTI-Brent closed up a bit, settling at ~$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 $3.77/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 70 rigs running. Dunn, Mountrail, and Williams counties are the only other counties with more than 25 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
  • 15 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.