Bakken Shale Rig Count Stays Flat at 182

Oil Rail Car Image
Oil Rail Car Image

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count stayed flat at 182 rigs running across our coverage area by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 192 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 15 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent Bakken news, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed new rules last week for the testing of Bakken crude and better designed rail cars. Within two years, the DOT proposes phasing out older DOT-111 tank cars for the shipment of packing group I flammable liquids, which includes most Bakken crude.

Read moreDOT Seeks New Rail Car Design and Bakken Crude Testing

The U.S. rig count increased by 12 to 1,883 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 318 rigs were targeting natural gas (three more than the previous week) and 1,562 were targeting oil in the U.S. (eight more than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 184 rigs are running in the Williston Basin across MT, ND, and SD. 178 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 192 rigs are active in North Dakota. That is eight more than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area, and 14 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 15 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 decreased by ~$1 from the previous week, trading at $101.99/bbl on Friday afternoon. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $88.69/bbl on July 24th. The WTI-Brent opened 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 $3.78/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. 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:

  • 171 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 11 rigs are drilling directional wells
  • 0 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.