Bakken Update April Production Numbers

The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources has released production numbers for The Bakken and for All North Dakota.

Bakken Barrels Per Day

North Dakota surpassed one million barrels per day for the first time. ND production averaged 1,001,149 barrels per day in April while Bakken only production was 937,263 bp/d.

Bakken Additional Wells

There were 218 additional wells in the Bakken and 225 additional wells in all North Dakota.

From the Director’s Cut, bold mine:

The drilling rig count was down slightly from March to April and back up one rig from
April to May. The number of well completions was unchanged at 200. The Tioga gas
plant conversion transitioned from approximately 25% capacity at the beginning of the
month to full capacity by the end of April. Weather continued to impact activity in April with 3 days of road closures due to the heavy rain at the end of the month and 9 to 11
days with wind speeds in excess of 35 mph, too high for completion work.

At the end of April there were about 600 wells waiting on completion services, a decrease of 35.

600 wells is a lot of wells. If they stopped drilling new wells tomorrow it would be three months before anything changed. I am not sure if this 600 includes only wells awaiting fracking or all wells that are in the process of being drilled plus all wells awaiting fracking. If anyone can answer this question please post it in the comments section.

Bakken Barrels Per Day Increase

Bakken barrels per day decreased but only slightly, from 23,360 in March to 23,257 in April, a drop of 103 barrels per day. This is a rather important stat. Even though additional wells increased from 188 in March to 218 in April, the increase in production dropped by over 100 barrels per day. Well completions held steady at 200. The additional well in production number varies because some wells that had been shut down were brought back on line.

Bakken Wells

North Dakota has 10,317 producing wells, 7,468 of those wells are in the Bakken.

Barrels pd pq

Barrels per day per well seems to have leveled out at 126 Bakken, 97 for North Dakota and 22 for all North Dakota wells outside the Bakken.

I know this is a rather short post but there is just not much else to report about the Bakken data release. I will have another post in a few days on Bakken production by county and also a Texas RRC report.


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217 Responses to Bakken Update April Production Numbers

  1. aws. says:

    Pressure on Oil Megaprojects

    By MURIEL BOSELLI, NY Times, JUNE 17, 2014

    PARIS — Around the world, the giant oil companies of the United States and Europe are putting the brakes on a decade-long spending spree focused on finding and developing offshore oil fields in ever-tougher environments.

    The reason: Soaring costs are outpacing foreseeable rises in energy prices.

    • Karen Allen says:

      Impressive that they can write that article with out a single mention of peak oil when basically the entire article is describing peak oil’s impact pretty darn clearly. But I guess that’s how this will play out in public consciousness. Oil production hasn’t peaked, it’s just that the cheap oil is gone, oil prices per barrel are too low, and the costs of producing new oil are too high. Steven Kopits called the oil majors plummeting desire for more capex exactly right in his presentation in February.

      • Joe Clarkson says:

        In December 2012, Michael Kumhof (an economist researching for the IMF) talked about the need for increased oil prices to maintain increasing production- “if the world economy wanted to make oil output grow by about 0.8% per annum (which is what the International Energy Agency has been predicting), oil prices would have to rise very dramatically, by almost 100% over the coming decade !”

        It remains to be seen whether the world economy could tolerate such increases. It looks like the oil majors don’t think so. Peak oil is either here now or very close.

      • Old farmer mac says:

        Energy and financial pundits take lessons at professional wrestling referee school. You cannot graduate until you prove conclusively you cannot see an elephant in a living room with you.

  2. A Continental well in the Bakken went bad and cost approximately 60 grand per acre at the 1280 acre spacing to fix the problem. It was a drain on the pocketbook for one participant and was forced to liquidate some of an account to pay cash for the damage.

    Not all wells are going to be a success.

    Continental was applying pressure to the mineral owner maybe in hopes of acquiring the well, but alas, the participant held on to the cash royalty payments for that rainy day occurrence which did happen.

    The production does add up to an amount that is more than zero. You have to cover all bases, you have to have cash in accounts to be able to weather the setbacks.

    It is not about oil, it’s about money.

    The rig count is at 189 and most activity is in Dunn, Mountrail, Mackenzie, Williams and Divide counties.

  3. Carl Martin says:


    I’m not at all certain about the 50 years number, but I’ve always just used 30, sometimes 40 years. No one knows for sure. These are only estimates. The most important item is payback time. All the rest is gravy.

    “You say that 603k is the going average, and based on the NDIC data I say you are clearly wrong.” This is a valid point, but it depends on what you mean by the Bakken. For me the Bakken means the 10,000 sq mile thermally mature area (sweet spot) (most OOIP flows here with fracking) that CLR mostly delineated (derisked) years ago, plus the roughly 4,000 marginally mature area (not so sweet spot, where only some of the OOIP flows with fracking). That which doesn’t flow with fracking is kerogen, which is pretty much present and dominating everywhere outside of the CLR designated areas. I am only referring to wells within this designated area as that is where the ultimate Bakken production will come from.

    CLR has considerable acreage outside of this designated area. This area must also be drilled, even at a loss, if they are to retain their leases there. That is what they are doing, and that is why you are correct, but your information is not particularly relevant. It would be if……everyone was drilling all the sweet spots first. But they aren’t! That said, the oil industry runs on a concept called best practices, which means all companies will eventually copy whoever is best. CLR is NOT the best in the Bakken. They are just damn good. EOG is considered much better because they can get nearly the same amount of oil out with half the lateral length.

    CLR’s SCOOP play is better for them than the Bakken, so much of their current focus is there. EOG greatly lowered their Bakken activity last year because their holdings in EF and the Permian gave them a much better return on investment. But, they are back this year. Remember, these are corporations, and it’s not really about oil. It’s all about money. Believers in PO are barking up the wrong tree, because you are following oil production (actually production declines) instead of following the money. EOG recently bought into four other NEW/old shale plays located between the Bakken and EF. What does that tell you?

    You can be sure that CLR has cherry picked their best locations for their downspacing experiments, their multilevel development experiments, and their increasing amounts of sand experiments. So, obviously such results cannot be extrapolated to their whole land area. Tangsrud is not quite disasterous, but it surely isn’t at all impressive. But, it is only a delineation experiment to test how far North the economic viability of TF2 and TF3 extend. If they have got that right, all that’s left to delineate on those levels are E,W, and S directions. It costs them time and money and holds down their average EUR, but it must be done someday.

    If you want to consider the total cost of drilling wells and running the whole company, you are free to do so. It is a valid thing to do. But, most analysts are just looking at the payback time of well production. That is how you can compare apples to apples, but not to oranges. Whether a company is cash flow positive or negative doesn’t tell you much. It is common practice to use large amounts of debt to buy up all available shale leases. Speaking for all investors, we are mostly interested in good (honest) management, a good land position, being pretty far up on the learning curve, increasing production growth, increasing reserves, and last but not least, an increasing land position (resources) by going INTO debt to buy more land.

    The equation is simple. The shale oil is there. It can easily be gotten out with a good profit at today’s prices….if one knows how to use today’s technology. However, today’s technology quickly becomes yeasterday’s technology, as new breakthroughs are always occurring. Sorry, but there is no reason to doubt all the shale hype out there. But, if there is, I’d be the first person to want to hear about it.

    Did I address all of your concerns?

    • Watcher says:

      “This area must also be drilled, even at a loss, if they are to retain their leases there. ”

      So you are expecting a decline in average barrels/day per well? That’s not very bullish.

      • Carl Martin says:


        Having to drill low EUR wells just to hold on to a lease is all part of doing business in the oil patch. Such practices obviously put downward pressure on average EUR’s for any given area. On the other hand drilling high EUR wells puts upward pressure on same. For any given month Bakken production results (divided by the # of wells) simply reflect such pressures. No, I am not expecting a decline in average bpd/well, although that may well happen until the industry starts to shift to full field development in 2015. That’s when the development focus shifts to the 10,000 sq mile sweet spot of thermally mature oil known as “The Kitchen” starts to takes place, and work on lower EUR wells starts to taper off. Sorry, but you folks at this site got it exactly backwards, cuz you don’t follow what is going on at the company websites.

    • Old farmer mac says:

      Personally I am highly skeptical about the long term possibilities of tight oil but there are some things that don’t quite make sense to me in terms of the dollars and cents end of the business at the ultimate level.

      It seems that most people who are skeptics are convinced that tight oil is a money loser as the industry exists today. If the cost of buying up land leases at exorbitant prices is included, and the price of learning the tight oil drilling business is included- which has taken a few years and is an ongoing process- maybe it is a loser.

      If somebody puts way too much money in buying up oil rights, and on top of that doesn’t have state of the art cost versus production skills–then it is indeed easy to see that they might be losing money and have to get out of the business.

      But if somebody else can come in and get that same ground for substantially less money -knowing a lot more about it before they make an offer for it- the new operator might do ok or even a lot better than ok.For now.

      It doesn’t take that many barrels of oil to add up to ten million bucks at prices approaching a hundred dollars a barrel. Of course interest adds up fast- and I have no idea just what the interest rates are in the oil industry these days but they are apparently pretty low.

      Just eyeballing the graphs published here without even using a pencil and enelope it looks as if a whole lot of wells will generate ten million bucks in revenue in three years or maybe even less.

      Now if the net price received by the owners is only eighty bucks or so after shipping — things look a lot worse.

      So – My questions .

      When we see a cost per well figure such as ten million bucks, what is included and what is excluded in this figure?

      What are the typical shipping costs paid by well owners?

      What are the interest rates typically paid in the tight oil biz?

      It does seem that it is possible to make some money at first glance if you don’t have too much expense in terms of lease costs and shipping costs and reasonably good luck in average production per well.

      But even if this is so it does not prove that the ” sweet spots” extend out over long distances beyond the spots currently being developed.

      A few years down the road it might take a substantially higher price to cover the cost of drilling an average well that will produce less because the ground is not as good, all other things held equal.

      Maybe the wells will mostly produce a trickle of oil for thirty or forty years or longer.It seems obvious that it would take a substantial amount of electricity to keep them producing that trickle but if any use can be found for cheap intermittent wind power this would seem to be a good one if the lines can be extended to the wells- not for drilling but simply for pumping. That would require a much smaller line and much less energy for a substantial period of time – decades- and might be economical.

      Or maybe the well would produce enough gas to run the pumps on gas.

      Once the well is down to that eventual few barrels a day trickle electricity is probably the biggest expense involved it keeping it in production. I have read that as much as half or even more of the revenue from stripper wells in Texas is needed to keep the pumps running but with that being the only real expense- Texas stripper wells are apparently quite profitable to the owners.

      I recently met a man who moved to my neighborhood (-which is unfortunately filling up fast with vacation houses- ) who drives a Viper and the biggest motor home I have ever seen as well as couple of other new cars. He has built a million dollar property.Being nosy I ask about the money and he said he was smart enough to marry a woman who inherited a dozen stripper wells in Oklahoma and that they have been living pretty high on the hog for the last ten or twelve years since oil went past twenty bucks and stayed there.He says he used to work by the hour in construction and he looks it- you can tell easily enough as a man gets older.

      Other than knowing people online I guess this ” seventeen barrels a day and that ain’t hay” guy is the closest I will ever get to knowing an oil man. That is a line from an old country and western song.I guess he and his wife have at least a hundred barrels a day with twelve wells. At fifty bucks net a barrel that would add up nicely.Their net might be double or triple that.

      • Watcher says:

        Noting again, a 60 stage fracked sour spot can outproduce a 30 stage fracked sweet spot.

        No such thing as a sweet spot unless all things are held stagnant.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Watcher,

          Any proof of that? If the extra oil from 60 frack stages more than pays for the extra expense it would be the norm, that is the way business works, you invest until marginal revenue is equal to marginal cost in a competitive industry to maximize profits, Econ 101.

          • Watcher says:

            Proof of what? That a 60 stage frack in a sour spot can outproduce a 30 stage frack in a sweet spot? It’s an assertion with no dollar input.

            60 is 100% more than 30. For it not to be true then sweet would have to be 100% superior to sour. Or 100% superior to average. Odds of that seem low. Then there is the strategy potentially of fracking 3D with the bore positioned below the Bakken layer targeted, so that the downward frack can get into the TF layers. That would *create* a sweet spot.

            Or one can change definitions. A 60 stage frack can become by definition a sweet spot.

            • Carl Martin says:


              You are really getting into some very dangerous territory here. Would you mind defining what you are calling a Bakken sweet spot in EUR’s. And, it would certainly help if everyone else who uses that expression would please define it in EUR’s.

              • Watcher says:

                It’s defined by latitude, longitude and depth. Not by EUR.

                • Carl Martin says:


                  Okay. Could you please define your Bakken sweet spot(s) by latitude, longitude, and depth, so I will at least have some idea of what you are referring to? Because, I have absolutely no idea what any of you people here are referring to when you use this expression, and I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that none of you happen know either.

                  You just might be able to clear up a lot of misunderstandings here.

    • Enno says:

      Thanks for your response. I have explained to you the reasons that have made me suspicious/cautious, and I think those reasons are still valid. You sketch an optimistic picture about sweet spots hardly drilled, but so far the data tells me differently. But if you’re right, we should soon see the evidence of that in the data, and then I’ll be happy to admit that I was too critical.
      Benjamin Graham mentions that he as an investor looked at the future as a source of concern, and demanded current value. I see that you have a different investing attitude, and I hope that works out for you.

      • Carl Martin says:


        I think your replys are valid. I just don’t think they are very relevant.

        My assertion that the sweet spots have hardly been drilled is based upon CLR’s October, 2010 technical paper which can be accessed at their website by clicking on “Our Operations” then upper center “Technical Papers”, then you’ll find it at the bottom of the page. It is because 48,000 wells with average EUR’s of 500k will need to be drilled to produce the 24 billion BOE, that CLR claims are recoverable from the two upper layers of the Bakken. As only about 8,000 wells have even been drilled so far, it wouldn’t even be possible to have hit all the sweet spots, as YOU seem to call them. For me the 10,000 sq mile core of the Bakken is the sweet spot. Do you not understand/accept that oil companies are FORCED to drill all the low EUR wells, (that you are so focused on), in order to hold on to their leases????? At present all of these 8,000 wells drilled so far are merely exploration, lease holding, or experimental wells. None are what are known as full field development wells. That first starts in 2015. But, as the total producing area will be about 14,000 sq miles, about 6,000 low EUR leaseholding wells still need to be drilled….just to hold on to the leases. That’s why your data doesn’t show the increase in EUR’s, that the top oil companies are actually getting. It is not because it is not there. It is because you can’t see it from the data you are using. Try getting your data from company websites. Then you will agree with me.
        The current value I am invested in is how much oil companies are pulling out of the ground right now. The future value, which is assumed to be far greater, is how much oil they expect to produce in the future.

    • Doug Leighton says:


      According to BBC yesterday, 15,000 refinery workers were evacuated in anticipation of anticipated battle with ISIS. That’s a lot of workers and it gives you an idea of scale.


      • Watcher says:

        180K bpd?

        15K people?

        Doesn’t sound right.

        • Doug Leighton says:

          I know. Probably isn’t. That’s the trouble with reading the news but sometimes the BBC does a better job than some of the others!

  4. RalphW says:

    Not often does my jaw just drop when I read a headline.

    This was one.

    We greens are all really reds under the beds! Putin stage the hijacking of the Greenpeace ship and crew just to provide cover!

    This is below the belt even by the loony right press standards these days.

    • Watcher says:

      I think you’re a little behind the times.

      Putin is not altogether hated by the right wing. Being associated with him would be a positive thing.

    • Old farmer mac says:

      There is no proof given for this allegation- nothing but the word of one politician.

      But the article nevertheless makes perfectly good sense in every respect if you know a little bit about the Russians and their history. I will toot my horn a little and say that I am most likely the only person who comments here in this forum that has read a good bit of USSR history.Reading happens to be my primary pastime and history is my favorite subject so this is not saying a lot.I am most definitely only an armchair historian.

      The old USSR had a very good and very extensive propaganda machine and made excellent use of it.They didn’t care if something happened to be true- they publicized it if it appeared to further their interests. It didn’t matter a hoot to them to tell any sort of lie, no matter how big or how small, if they thought it would further their interests.

      The people who came up thru that system as young guys are running things in Russia today. Putin is a spook and a propaganda guy. He probably knows more personally about disinformation campaigns than all the professors at the Kennedy School of Business combined.

      People can be the bitterest of enemies and still have common enemies.The fact that Putin and his buddies might be behind a campaign to slow or stop tracking is not evidence he gives a damn about the environment or anything of that nature.It is not an indication he or his team are interested in furthering any of the goals of Greenpeace in particular or the environmental movement in particular except as a matter of accidental convergence.

      The Russian economy runs on oil revenues to the tune of at least a billion dollars a day.

      There has been ample evidence presented in this forum that oil production world wide would already have passed a clear peak if it were not for the success of the tight oil industry in this country.

      IF Putin and his team can slow down the fracking industry to any significant extent it means many many millions of dollars or Euros or rubles or whatever to Russia.A few million spent on discrediting the tracking industry would earn a return that might easily be as high as a hundred to even thousands to one by allowing the Russians to get a higher price for their exported oil.

      If they manage to keep a million barrels a day off the market for ten years- not stopping the tracking industry but merely slowing it down-delaying it- that would probably mean any where from a couple of bucks on up more per barrel for every barrel they sell for that ten years.”On up” might mean another five or ten bucks per barrel.That times a few million barrels exported per day for 3650 days is a hell of a lot of money.I can’t put a precise figure on it but less oil on the market means a higher price for people who are selling oil.

      I am most emphatically NOT SAYING THEY ACTUALLY ARE doing anything along this line.

      But there is no question in my mind that such actions would be perfectly in keeping with their history.

      There is no question that they have the money and the personnel necessary to doing it.

      IF I were a betting man I would BET that they are doing it.The payoff in relation to the risk and expense is too tempting to be resisted on practical grounds.

      American corporations do the same basic sort of thing day in and day out right out in the open.They support think tanks that tell us not to worry about running short of gasoline and donate to politicians that oppose higher fuel efficiency standards.No doubt they do plenty that is not so out in the open.

      So far as I can tell just about all large businesses have scads of public relations experts on the payroll who are no more ethical than old commie propaganda experts – the jobs of these experts being to influence public opinion in such a way as to protect and nourish their employers.There is no question they will do anything they think they can get away with.

      We know for instance that most of the bigger banks in this country were running scams and breaking the law thousands of times a day in the recent past.

      Why should anybody think the Russians are any nicer people than our own bankers?

      Our attorney general isn’t making any effort to lock up any bankers.

      We don’t question whether the Koch brothers engage in such tactics but they are at least theoretically subject to prosecution.

      He couldn’t touch a Russian oligarch inside Russia if his pension depended on it.

      • Dave Ranning says:

        I will toot my horn a little and say that I am most likely the only person who comments here in this forum that has read a good bit of USSR history.

        I actually did a thesis on the role of anarchism in the Russian Revolution.
        UCSB accepted it.

        • Old farmer mac says:

          This is good to know. The broader the combined expertise of the commenters the better the insights to be gleaned from participating in this forum.

          That’s a little far back but if you studies reached into the thirties on up thru the cold war era you definitely know a hell of a lot more about USSR history than I do or ever will.

          So- what is your opinion of the old soviet propaganda machine?

          What is your opinion on the current question?

          This sort of intrigue could- if the cards fall wrong- lead to an international crisis. Wars have been started over less.

          • thrig says:

            “The Net Delusion” by Evgeny Morozov indicates that the propaganda system is alive, well, and updated for this binary age.

  5. Ezrydermike says:

    apparently, you all are just not significant.

    “….but the fact remains that there is no significant work suggesting that world oil production must peak any time in the foreseeable future, unless demand-side pressures are the cause.”

    • Ezrydermike says:

      not sure why this comment ended up here


      • Watcher says:

        The odd thing is there are two Michael Lynch’s writing about oil. One is a somewhat crazy blue skies and rainbows guy and the other is low key.

  6. Old farmer mac says:

    It seems most of the trucks are conventional tankers of the sort used all over to haul liquids. Some articles talk about 8000 gallon loads but that seems a tad heavy considering weight limits on public roads.It probably takes between 125 and 150 trips to haul a million gallons. It is easy to see that with a lot of wells going in and old two lane rural roads that traffic jams are real headache by the time you consider pipe and sand and all the other stuff used on a well site.

    Does anybody know how long a typical water haul is?

    I know permanent pipelines are extremely expensive but water can be moved in temporary lines laid on top of the ground that are not very expensive- lots of farmers have few thousand feet of irrigation pipe they move around from place to place and use only a few days per year.Water is not a toxic substance and a blow out would not cause any significant damage.

    It seems at first glance that temporary water lines would be economical investments even if they could only be used in warm weather.

    • Watcher says:

      The numbers could be 40 million pounds of water. 5 million gallons. There are references to gallons and to pounds around. It’s annoying.

      A garden hose to a house does about 720 gallons an hour at household pressure levels.

      2.5″ pipe will do a somewhat nominal 900 gallons/minute, so almost 6000 gallons/hour. 5000000 gallons /6000 –> just about 1000 hours. / 24 is 42 days.

      Looks like truck may be better. I do wonder about the tank on site to hold it all. A gallon is 7 cubic feet. It would be a 350’X350’X350′ tank. No way. There’s something in this we don’t understand. We’ve seen lots of well site pics, there’s no tank that size there.

      • Watcher says:

        oops the pipe does 54000 gals per hour. Far less than 42 days.

        • Ezrydermike says:

          900 gpm sounds high for a 2 inch pipe. about 7.5 gals per cubic foot or 0.13 cubic feet per gallon

          • Watcher says:

            Shrug, got it from a table online. I think it quoted a high and low end and I picked a number in the middle.

            It IS pressure dependent of course.

  7. Jeju-islander says:

    For the third time in a week the New York Times claims that the Baiji Oil Refinery in Iraq has been taken by ISIS. Again I am doubtful. This time they are contradicted by an article in Platts’ The Barrel
    Although the British security force has now been withdrawn.

    • RalphW says:

      The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. I read up a bit on the security features that were installed at the refinery. The army can be holed up in one or both control centres which are easily defended, whilst the bulk of the site is in ISIS control.

      Either way, the refinery is offline, and could be trashed by ISIS at will. Situation on the ground will be very unclear, and all propaganda will be lies from both sides.

      • Watcher says:

        “and all propaganda will be lies from both sides.”

        Distrust all data of all kinds in the new normal.

  8. Dennis Coyne says:

    Using the full Bakken model including economics and with an EUR decrease resulting in a TRR of 8.5 Gb, I created a scenario with 70 wells added per month from May 2014 to Dec 2035 with the wells added decreasing after that to keep profits positive. The economically recoverable resources (ERR) are 8 Gb by Dec 2073. Output initially falls to 700 kb/d and remains at that level to 2021 and then declines slowly, output at 600 kb/d in 2029 and to 300 kb/d by 2040. No wells are added after August 2041 and the total number of wells is 25,700 wells.

  9. aws. says:

    Isis takes control of border crossing between Iraq and Syria

    Militant group able to move weapons and equipment as fighters prepare for likely assault on Baghdad, say officials

    Kevin Rawlinson and agencies,, Saturday 21 June 2014 15.53 BST

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