Bakken Shale Rig Count Increases by Two to 184

SM Energy Bakken Map
SM Energy Bakken Map

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count increased by two to 184 rigs running across our coverage area by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 193 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 21 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent Bakken news, SM Energy recently announced it will acquire approximately 61,000 net acres in Divide and Williams Counties for $330-million from Baytex Energy. The acreage is directly adjacent to the company’s Gooseneck focus area. Upon closing, the company will have ~97,000 acres in the area.

Read moreSM Energy Grabs 61,000 Bakken Net Acres - $330 Million

The U.S. rig count increased by six to 1,889 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 313 rigs were targeting natural gas (five less than the previous week) and 1,573 were targeting oil in the U.S. (11 more than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 186 rigs are running in the Williston Basin across MT, ND, and SD. 177 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 193 rigs are active in North Dakota. That is seven 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 21 rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs increased by two to 184 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices decreased by ~$4 from the previous week, trading at $97.60/bbl on Friday afternoon. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $84.69/bbl on July 24th. The WTI-Brent opened up a bit, 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 at $3.80/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 62 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:

  • 170 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 13 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.