Bakken Shale Rig Count Stays Flat at 183

Bakken Production Chart - Goldman Sachs
Bakken Production Chart - Goldman Sachs

The Bakken-Three Forks rig count remained flat at 183 rigs running by the end of last week. The NDIC notes 185 rigs are active in North Dakota, but around 16 of those are in the process of moving in and rigging up.

In recent news, the number of producing wells in North Dakota reached an all-time record high of 10,186 in February 2014. The information was released in the North Dakota Industrial Commission's (NDIC) Director's Cut for Aril 2014. The number of producing wells in North Dakota has risen month over month since the beginning of the year.

Read moreBakken Production Sets Another Record for Producing Wells - February 2014

The U.S. rig count stayed flat at 1831 rigs running by the end of last week. A total of 316 rigs were targeting natural gas (6 more than the previous week) and 1,510 were targeting oil in the U.S. (7 less than the previous week). The remainder were drilling service wells (e.g. disposal wells, injection wells, etc.). 185 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 185 rigs are active in North Dakota. That is 7 more than Baker Hughes reports in the Bakken area. 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 last week . WTI oil prices increased slightly to $104.35/bbl on Friday afternoon. Williston Basin Sweet crude traded at $90.94/bbl on April 17th. The WTI-Brent opened up a bit, settling at ~$5 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$4.76/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 23 rigs running each. View the full list below under the Bakken Drilling by County section.

Activity is dominated by horizontal drilling:

  • 168 rigs are drilling horizontal wells
  • 15 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 and/or Smith Service Co's (Schlumberger) Smith Rig Count.

North Dakota Bakken Production On Pace For 850,000 b/d In 2013

North Dakota Bakken Three Forks Map
North Dakota Bakken Three Forks Map

The latest director's cut from the NDIC shows oil production in North Dakota hit a record of more than 793,000 b/d in April 2013. The state is on pace to surpass 850,000 b/d by year-end.

At current levels of activity in the Bakken and Three Forks, production should grow approximately 10,000 b/d per month. That puts the state on pace to hit 760,000-780,000 b/d by year-end.

The target will be easily surpassed if operators can get the oil to market. Weather delays have been the biggest obstacle in 2013. Snow and heavy rain over the past two months has shortened the most productive time of the year (summer). April 2013 was the coldest on record and May 2013 was the wettest on record.

Lynn Helms stated, "Operators have not been able to catch a break."

The delays caused by weather have made it even harder for frac crews to keep up with the drilling rigs. It's estimated that 490 wells have been drilled and are awaiting completion. That's almost 6% of all the producing wells in the state!

There are 187 rigs working in North Dakota and Baker Hughes noted 178 of those were active in the Bakken area last week.

Other highlights from May 2013 include:

  • Gas production set a record at 860 mmcfd
  • 29% of gas production was flared
  • 211 drilling permits issued

Read the full release at