Bakken Shale Rig Count Stays Flat at 182

Hess' Bakken Acreage Map
Hess' Bakken Acreage Map

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count stayed flat at 182 rigs running by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 189 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 16 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent news, Hess’ first quarter 2014 Bakken production increased slightly from the fourth quarter, but company official say total Bakken production was curtailed due to the shutdown of the Tioga gas plant. Company officials now say Hess’ Bakken production levels are greater than 80,000 boe/d after work was completed on the Tioga gas plant expansion. The company currently has a 17 rig drilling program in the Bakken with 2014 net production expected to average 80,000 to 90,000 boe/d.

Read moreHess Production To Soar in Bakken By the End of 2014

The U.S. rig count decreased by four to 1,857 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 325 rigs were targeting natural gas (one less than the previous week) and 1,528 were targeting oil in the U.S. (three less than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 183 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 189 rigs are active in North Dakota. That is 6 more than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, and 15 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 16 rigs are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

Bakken Oil & Gas Rigs

The number of oil rigs stayed flat at 182 rigs running by the end of the week . WTI oil prices increased by $2 to $104.37/bbl on Friday afternoon. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $90.94/bbl on May 23rd. The WTI-Brent closed up slightly, 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$4.40/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:

  • 166 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 14 rigs are drilling directional wells
  • 2 rigs are 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.