EVOLUTION Across the Play
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NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
INSIDE VOLUME 3
32 6 8 12 18 22 24
Focus of the Report
Petroleum Researchers Shift Focus
10 Bakken Focus: A Growing Force In Remote Power, Midstream Water
How subsurface research efforts by industry and academia reveal the current knowledge base of the Bakken and Three Forks formations.
Growth of the Original Shale Play Historical analysis of a monthly information release issued by the state of North Dakota shows the technical, regulatory and global challenges the Bakken has overcome.
30 Meet The Modern Shale-Water Company
ADVERTISER INDEX 2
2019 Bakken Conference & Expo
D&L Oil Tools
Gravity Oilfield Services
New basin-specific projects or related industries that could be coming to the Bakken.
Bakken Change & Evolution
John Perez Graphics & Design LLC
North American Shale magazine Top News
NOV Completion & Production Solutions
Rethinking Resource Utilization
Changes in well production, the core four counties, active operators and more throughout the Williston Basin.
Current Characteristics of Bakken Well Completions Trends in completion strategies—from generation 1.0 to generation 5.0—and how they’ve expanded the Bakken’s production possibilities.
16 Becoming The Go-To Oilfield Service
In Terms of the Bakken The phrases, words and terms that reveal the multi-layered evolution of the Bakken.
ON THE COVER: A multiwell pad in operation near the Missouri River in North Dakota. The Northern Lights shimmer in the background. PHOTO: PAIGE BAKER PHOTOGRAPHY
EDITOR'S NOTE NorthAmericanShaleMagazine.com VOLUME 3
Focus of the Report
Luke Geiver EDITOR North American Shale magazine email@example.com
The 2019 Bakken Report, produced by our team at North American Shale magazine, is meant to reveal how the Bakken shale play has changed, or could evolve in the near-term future. In an age of big data and information overload, we focused on key, play-specific components responsible for shaping the Bakken circa 2019. This report highlights the consistent elements responsible for making the Williston Basin’s main geologic target a world-class resource. From coverage on research trends to memorable, yet often overlooked statistics, each section shows a clear picture of the Bakken.
The Changing Focus of Research Geologists and engineers continue to dedicate significant research time to enhancing production and knowledge of the Bakken petroleum system. An examination of the focal point of new research, along with an understanding of those doing the work, shows what’s next. Reporting History For more than a decade, the play’s most important regulating body has been providing monthly updates on production stats or other factors of note. Check-out the transformation of those reports to see the factors at play during different activity periods and how history may, or may not, repeat itself. New Resource Projects From retrieving lithium (for cell phone batteries) from produced water brine, to injecting associated gas back underground, new and unique-to-the-Bakken projects could morph daily field operations, or spawn new ones. Generation 5.0 No sector of the Bakken has seen more change than in hydraulic fracturing. When comparing early strategies to modern generation 5.0 designs, the results from completion strategy, material and downhole technology tweaks or upgrades show why the core of the play has expanded. Evolving and Overcoming Becoming a world-class oil and gas resource play wasn’t easy. Follow the in-depth look at how the Bakken overcame, and pioneered, an entire shale industry through the terms used to describe it.
Editor Luke Geiver firstname.lastname@example.org Copy Editor Jan Tellmann email@example.com
PUBLISHING & SALES CEO Joe Bryan firstname.lastname@example.org President Tom Bryan email@example.com Marketing & Sales Director John Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org Business Development Director Howard Brockhouse email@example.com Senior Account Manager Chip Shereck firstname.lastname@example.org Circulation Manager Jessica Tiller email@example.com Marketing & Advertising Manager Marla DeFoe firstname.lastname@example.org
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Subscriptions Subscriptions to North American Shale magazine are free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge for any country outside the United States. To subscribe, visit www. NorthAmericanShaleMagazine.com or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to: North American Shale magazine/ Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to 701-7465367. Reprints and Back Issues Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at 866-746-8385 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Advertising North American Shale magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about North American Shale magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 866-746-8385 or email@example.com. Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. If you write us, please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space. Send to North American Shale magazine/Letters, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to lgeiver@ bbiinternational.com.
The Bakken formation, along with the Three Forks, has made North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada, a destination for shale energy innovation and investment. As the play continues to evolve, insight included in this report indicates that the path ahead will continue to benefit from continued research, innovation and investment. The Bakken, and the greater Williston Basin, will only get bigger and better.
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NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
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NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
SHIFT FOCUS The Society of Petroleum Engineers houses an exhaustive database of research work and case studies performed by petroleum engineers from industry and academia. Advanced search op-
to extract more oil. As the list of research topics and chart of research participants each show, the amount of work being done by multiple entities continues to be robust. BR
tions within the database allow for the compilation of studies and work based on specific terms and time periods. Using the term, “Bakken” for the period between 2018 and 2019, search results yielded 444 results. The paper titles reveal the direction and evolution of the Bakken. Many of the paper titles are related to studies that examine parent and child well relationships, frack hits and cluster placement efficiency. Other popular topics for the period between 2018 to ’19 include research on drilling fluids, gases applicable and possible for enhanced oil recovery and how data and machine learning can be utilized to better understand a reservoir. Using the same search term, but a different year period (2010-’11) netted 215 results. Paper topics differed greatly, focusing more on general reservoir characteristics, possibilities for infill development and how new downhole technology (now commonplace in the Bakken) could be used
2018 to 2019 Research Topics (not inclusive): Fracing Water Production Downhole Scale Gas Cycling Diverters Supercritical CO2 Managed Pressure Drilling ESP Pumps Machine Learning Well Interference Environmental Awareness Concerns on DUCs Coiled Tubing Fluid Self-removing frac plugs
The Bakken’s Research Stakeholders
GRAVITY OILFIELD SERVICES SPONSORED CONTENT
Bakken Focus: A Growing Force In Remote Power, Midstream Water Gravity Oilfield Services has become a force in the Bakken by helping operators overcome the challenges of remote well sites and an ever-increasing need to deal with produced water. The energy services firm has largescale operations in several major North American shale plays. In the Bakken, Gravity has amassed an impressive inventory of equipment and service options that help clients deal with one of the main issues throughout the Williston Basin: remote power generation. Although a large percentage of drilling and production in the play takes place across the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, the FBIR still lacks reliable and widespread utility power. Gravity’s team has set-up three separate locations across North Dakota to help serve operators active in drilling, pumping or producing from a remote well site. The company’s inventory has helped it become a go-to service provider in the Bakken, but according to Gravity’s team, the inventory offered helps meet the unique needs of a Bakken client. “Portable power is only a fraction of what is required. The seasonal requirements to operate power generation equipment becomes more of a factor than geography or the remoteness of locations,” Gravity said. The team has made several design changes to better handle condensate and stop equipment from freezing up. “There are many factors in keeping the equipment running during the winter months.” In addition to remote well sites, many production strategies now call for electronic submersible pumps, which increase the power needs of a well site.
Gravity’s successful longevity in the Bakken stems in part from its reliance on a skilled workforce. “Our biggest asset is our employees,” the team said. “Anyone can rent a light tower or generator, but are they there when the equipment fails like we are?” Many of the Gravity employees have worked in the Bakken for more than five years. Equipped with a skilled team, Gravity has expanded its services in the Bakken to produced water and saltwater disposal. The company is now on a path to growing into a major water midstream entity in the Bakken and beyond. In the past year, Gravity has acquired two Bakken-based SWDs and other assets that include disposal services connected by truck and pipeline infrastructure. Gravity’s total operational capacity of water management infrastructure in the Bakken is now more than 100,000 barrels of water per day. The combination of portable power services and water midstream gathering, and disposal assets now has Gravity set up for many years to come as a trusted force capable of helping operators throughout the play overcome the challenges of geography and water. BR
10 NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
McKenzie Energy Partners System 75,000 bwpd capacity 8 SWDs 34 miles of pipeline (97%)
Asset Growth In Water Midstream
MBI System 33,400 bwpd capacity 6 SWDs 10,181 bwpd by truck (96%)
Growth of the
The Bakken has received global attention since the early days of the first unconventional wells drilled and completed within the boundaries of the known play. The attention has come in part from the unique, exhaustive and consistent information and perspective provided by the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Oil & Gas Division team. Investors and industry stakeholders outside the region along with regional decision makers and business owners have been able to stay connected to the state of the Bakken—by the numbers— thanks to the monthly data conferences delivered by the state. Starting in 2010, the ND DMR began producing and broadcasting a monthly web-based broadcast on drilling rig numbers, production volumes and other factors impacting the direction of the Bakken’s activity levels. The Director’s Cuts started as simple, minimal documents. Today, the documents are multipage write-ups packed with information that tells the transformation of the Bakken and how it has overcome growing pains and continues to thrive despite constant change in regulation, oil prices and industry. Follow the categories to see how the Bakken shows a history of overcoming activity swings, oil price volatility and restrictive regulation.
NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
January 7, 2011 Barrels produced per day: 355,038 Gas produced per day: 352,559 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 75.74 Producing Wells: 5,331 Rig Count: 158 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 2 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 0
August 17, 2011 Barrels produced per day: 384,678 Gas produced per day: 394,214 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 91.69 Producing Wells: 5,558 Rig Count: 175 Rig Count Trends: Setting Records Page Number of DC: 2 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 0
May 11, 2011 Barrels produced per day: 359,589 Gas produced per day: 356,359 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 95.51 Producing Wells: 5,439 Rig Count: 171 Rig Count Trends: Steady Page Number of DC: 2 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 0
November 8, 2011 Barrels produced per day: 464,122 Gas produced per day: 485,075 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 83.50 Producing Wells: 6,071 Rig Count: 197 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 2 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 0
January 11, 2013 Barrels produced per day: 733,078 Gas produced per day: 782,726 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 80.86 Producing Wells: 8,101 Rig Count: 186 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 3 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 2, both hydraulic fracturing
August 15, 2013 Barrels produced per day: 821,415 Gas produced per day: 930,968 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 85.79 Producing Wells: 9,071 Rig Count: 187 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 3 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 2, both hydraulic fracturing
May 15, 2013 Barrels produced per day: 782,812 Gas produced per day: 846,906 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 87.25 Producing Wells: 8,634 Rig Count: 186 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 3 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 2, both hydraulic fracturing
November 15, 2013 Barrels produced per day: 931,940 Gas produced per day: 1,060,380 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 92.96 Producing Wells: 9,682 Rig Count: 183 Rig Count Trends: Slightly decreasing Page Number of DC: 3 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 2, both hydraulic fracturing
May 11, 2010 Barrels produced per day: 277,403 Gas produced per day: 277,626 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 71.20 Producing Wells: 4,736 Rig Count: 102 Rig Count Trends: Very high, rising Page Number of DC: 2 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 0
November 11, 2010 Barrels produced per day: 341,384 Gas produced per day: 340,074 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 67.95 Producing Wells: 5,197 Rig Count: 143 Rig Count Trends: Rising Page Number of DC: 2 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 0
August 25, 2010 Barrels produced per day: 315,278 Gas produced per day: 303,248 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 63.14 Producing Wells: 4,979 Rig Count: 125 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 2 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 0
2011 2012 2013 2014
January 17, 2012 Barrels produced per day: 509,726 Gas produced per day: 521,194 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 88.54 Producing Wells: 6,332 Rig Count: 199 Rig Count Trends: Slowly increasing Page Number of DC: 2 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 0
August 15, 2012 Barrels produced per day: 660,332 Gas produced per day: 712,312 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 72.58 Producing Wells: 7,352 Rig Count: 213 Rig Count Trends: Slight decrease Page Number of DC: 3 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 2, both hydraulic fracturing
May 25, 2012 Barrels produced per day: 575,490 Gas produced per day: 620,848 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 76.29 Producing Wells: 6,921 Rig Count: 205 Rig Count Trends: Slow increase Page Number of DC: 3 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 2, both on hydraulic fracturing
November 20, 2012 Barrels produced per day: 728,494 Gas produced per day: 793,548 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 84.98 Producing Wells: 7,798 Rig Count: 190 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 3 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 2, both hydraulic fracturing Note: Flaring gas to fertilizer being studied
January 14, 2014 Barrels produced per day: 973,045 Gas produced per day: 1,086,571 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 71.42 Producing Wells: 10,023 Rig Count: 184 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 3 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 2, both hydraulic fracturing
August 15, 2014 Barrels produced per day: 1,092,617 Gas produced per day: 1,253,154 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 90.03 Producing Wells: 11,079 Rig Count: 190 Rig Count Trends: Slightly Increasing Page Number of DC: 3 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 2, both hydraulic fracturing
May 14, 2014 Barrels produced per day: 977,051 Gas produced per day: 1,086,189 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 86.72 Producing Wells: 10,457 Rig Count: 193 Rig Count Trends: Slightly increasing Page Number of DC: 3 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 0
November 14, 2014 Barrels produced per day: 1,184,635 Gas produced per day: 1,403,448 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 74.50 Producing Wells: 11,741 Rig Count: 195 Rig Count Trends: Slightly decreasing Page Number of DC: 3 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 3, hydraulic fracturing, venting and flaring, waters of US NorthAmericanShaleMagazine.com
January 14, 2015 Barrels produced per day: 1,187,206 Gas produced per day: 1,425,323 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 60.61 Producing Wells: 11,942 Rig Count: 188 Rig Count Trends: Decrease Page Number of DC: 4 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 5, hydraulic fracturing, endangered species, Waters of US, venting and flaring, methane emissions
August 14, 2015 Barrels produced per day: 1,211,178 Gas produced per day: 1,650,075 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 47.73 Producing Wells: 12,864 Rig Count: 78 Rig Count Trends: Decrease Page Number of DC: 5 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 1 Waters of US, 2 endangered species act, 2 hydraulic fracturing
May 13, 2015 Barrels produced per day: 1,190,583 Gas produced per day: 1,521,478 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 31.47 Producing Wells: 12,439 Rig Count: 108 Rig Count Trends: Decrease Page Number of DC: 4 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: 5, hydraulic fracturing, endangered species, Waters of US, venting and flaring, methane emissions
November 13, 2015 Barrels produced per day: 1,162,253 Gas produced per day: 1,603,758 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 31.17 Producing Wells: 13.025 Rig Count: 71 Rig Count Trends: Decreasing Page Number of DC: 7 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BLM 6, EPA 5, USFWS 1
January 13, 2017 Barrels produced per day: 1,033,693 Gas produced per day: 1,764,494 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 34.58 Producing Wells: 13,517 Rig Count: 37 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 9 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BIA 1, BLM 6, EPA 6, USFWS 2, PHMSA 1
August 11, 2017 Barrels produced per day: 1,032,495 Gas produced per day: 1,849,807 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 34.72 Producing Wells: 13,915 Rig Count: 55 Rig Count Trends: Increasing Page Number of DC: 11 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BIA 1, BLM 4, EPA 4, PHMSA 1, USFWS 2
May 12, 2017 Barrels produced per day: 1,025,638 Gas produced per day: 1,728,723 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 39.86 Producing Wells: 13,632 Rig Count: 46 Rig Count Trends: Increasing Page Number of DC: 10 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BIA 1, BLM 4, EPA 3, USFWS 2, PHMSA 1
November 15, 2017 Barrels produced per day: 1,107, 104 Gas produced per day: 1,942,740 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 39.56 Producing Wells: 14,190 Rig Count: 56 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 12 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BIA 1, BLM 4, EPA 4, PHMSA 1, USFWS 2
January 15, 2019 Barrels produced per day: 1,375,803 Gas produced per day: 2,522,875 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 39.11 Producing Wells: 15,237 Rig Count: 64 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 13 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BIA 1, BLM 6, EPA 5, PHMSA 1, USFWS 2
14 NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
January 15, 2016 Barrels produced per day: 1,176,314 Gas produced per day: 1,667,994 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 32.16 Producing Wells: 13,077 Rig Count: 64 Rig Count Trends: Decreasing Page Number of DC: 6 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BLM 6, BIA 1, EPA 4, USFWS 1
August 12, 2016 Barrels produced per day: 1,026,584 Gas produced per day: 1,662,025 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 38.75 Producing Wells: 13,239 Rig Count: 28 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 9 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BIA 1, BLM 6, EPA 6, USFWS 2 Note: Breakeven prices released by county
May 12, 2016 Barrels produced per day: 1,109,246 Gas produced per day: 1,709,773 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 26.62 Producing Wells: 13,024 Rig Count: 32 Rig Count Trends: Decreasing Page Number of DC: 8 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BLM 6, BIA 1, EPA 5, USFWS 2
November 16, 2016 Barrels produced per day: 971,658 Gas produced per day: 1,611,836 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 32.98 Producing Wells: 13,367 Rig Count: 34 Rig Count Trends: Increasing Page Number of DC: 9 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BIA 1, BLM 6, EPA 6, USFWS 2
January 16, 2018 Barrels produced per day: 1,194,920 Gas produced per day: 2,095,342 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 49.75 Producing Wells: 14,324 Rig Count: 54 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 11 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BIA 1, BLM 4, EPA 4, PHMSA 1, USFWS 2
August 16, 2018 Barrels produced per day: 1,225,510 Gas produced per day: 2,300,103 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 55.23 Producing Wells: 14,778 Rig Count: 63 Rig Count Trends: Increasing Page Number of DC: 13 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BIA 1, BLM 6, EPA 5, PHMSA 1, USFWS 2
May 15, 2018 Barrels produced per day: 1,162,071 Gas produced per day: 2,116,294 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 50.90 Producing Wells: 14,457 Rig Count: 59 Rig Count Trends: Stable Page Number of DC: 12 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BIA 1, BLM 4, EPA 4, PHMSA 1, USFWS 2
November 16, 2018 Barrels produced per day: 1,359,256 Gas produced per day: 2,532,018 Formations targeted: Bakken, Three Forks Sweet Crude Price: 59.05 Producing Wells: 15,287 Rig Count: 67 Rig Count Trends: Decreasing Page Number of DC: 13 Number of Impactful Regulations Mentioned: BIA 1, BLM 6, EPA 5, PHMSA 1, USFWS 2
NOV COMPLETION & PRODUCTION SOLUTIONS SPONSORED CONTENT
Becoming The Go-To Oil ield Service As drilling practices and completion strategies have changed across the Bakken shale, production methods have followed. National Oilwell Varco’s Completion and Production solutions team has helped its Bakken client’s achieve better results postfrack by collaborating with customers and constantly focusing on new technologies designed for enhanced efficiency and safety. Complex, well-specific completion designs have increased the attention paid to offset well production issues, or frack hits, across the Bakken and other plays. NOV’s team has designed the Universal Wellhead system to alleviate the issues associated with multiwell pad completion jobs. Designed to economically convert to several forms of artificial lift methods throughout the well life cycle, the universal package eliminates costly and traditional conversion requirements because it allows producers to monitor pressures at various sample points within the body of the wellhead. “Our customers call it the one-and-done wellhead because it doesn’t need to be replaced,” members of the team said. NOV’s Bakken team offers a large array of products that have helped producers achieve high-end results while changing the way they drill, frack and bring wells online. The Hercules HP technology offers the end user the ability to temporarily shut in 16
a producing well that is using artificial lift, avoiding the effects created by offset fracking operations. “It also gives operators the ability to increase production by returning online faster,” the team said. The production equipment can also help keep personnel safer from high pressures or better handle hydrogen sulfide and limit carbon dioxide emissions. At the wellsite, NOV has learned how to overcome surface issues as well. The company now can reduce wellhead stack height and increase stroke length or offer multiple alignment options for crooked wellheads, including a new Hercules HP Crooked BOP. Across the Williston Basin and other shale plays, NOV has been able to push the limits of new technology related to production. Those efforts have changed how operators think about their assets. Maintaining a leading role across the Bakken and other plays isn’t just about providing on-demand products and services that offer extreme reliability, operational efficiency and safety. For NOV, the goal is larger than that, the team said. The goal, which is now being achieved daily across the Bakken, is to alter the view of the oilfield and what is possible. “We have brought innovative hydraulic rod pumping systems, progressing cavity pump systems, automation controls and monitoring to help operators change the way they view their long-term production through artificial lift,” NOV’s Bakken team said. BR
NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
Serving The Field NOV’s Completion and Production Team offers an array of products and services that show what makes it a one-and-done provider in the Bakken. -Production Service Hookup provides blow out preventers, stuffing boxes, wellheads and accessories -From the Midstream side, NOV is a leader in API 6D valves used on LACT units -On the artificial lift segment, a line of reciprocating pumps includes multiple options in multiple brands -Choke products provided by NOV are used across the globe
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RESOURCE UTILIZATION The Bakken and Three Forks formations could require up to 80,000 unconventional wells to effectively drain the currently known tight oil trapped in the oil producing zones of the greater Williston Basin. Less than two decades into the development cycle of the Bakken and Three Forks, industry has drilled and completed fewer than 15,000 wells. While the long-term focus of the Williston Basin remains on enhancing unconventional oil and gas development, the play has also sparked several unique to the region projects that in their own way could each streamline, optimize, or offer a new and better alternative in storing produced gas, capturing value from the shale energy retrieval process, utilize existing geologic resources or connect with non-oil- or gas-related industries like agriculture or electricity production.
SOURCE: PATRICK C MILLER / BBI INTERNATIONAL
NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
Highest Production, EUR, ROI
Highest-strength sand Superior quartz structure Most uniform shape & size Minimal impurities
Tier 3a - High Conductivity Northern White or “Ottawa”
Medium-strength sand Moderate quartz structure Few impurities
Tier 3b - Medium Conductivity Brown, Texas, or “Brady”
Low-strength sand Inferior quartz structure Irregular shape & size Many impurities
Tier 3c - Low Conductivity AZ, NB or “River Sand”
Conductivity = Permeability of the frac x width of the frac = Kfrac x Wfrac SOURCE: CARBO CERAMICS
Storing Produced Gas In Existing Geologic Formations In late 2018, the North Dakota Industrial Commission approved a study that will examine the possibility of injecting excess produced gas into existing geologic formations. Researchers from the University of North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental Research Center will examine geologic formations capable of containing excess gas and the technologies that could be used for the process. The researchers will also explore the regulatory and statutory requirements required to make the excess gas-tounderground injection process feasible. The Dakota formation is currently used for saltwater disposal injection.
20 NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
Proppants Supplied From In-Basin Sites
Enhancing Existing Oil Production, Connecting With Other Industries Powering Cell phone Batteries From North Dakota Rare Earth Minerals Through the North Dakota Oil and Gas Research Program, a team of engineers and private industry members are studying and testing a process to treat oilfield brines to generate high-purity sodium chloride or to recover and concentrate high-value elements such as lithium or other rare earth elements. Researchers hope to prove out a full commercial-scale set-up that is currently under development and undergoing testing in the field at a non disclosed location. A similar project is taking place in the Marcellus, where commercial entities are using nanofiltration technology and removable membranes to speed up the evaporation process required to retrieve the minerals from the brine.
Working with existing coal-powered electricity generation sites in North Dakota, a research effort between university and private industry is now underway to evaluate the possibility of utilizing CO2 as an injected gas to enhance existing oilfields. Through Project Tundra, the EERC, Minnkota Power Cooperative, BNI Energy and Eagle Energy Partners, will work on a $1.3 billion project to establish a CO2 capture set-up at the Milton R. Young Station near Center, N.D. Captured CO2 will be piped to another location, stored, and then made available for injection into existing oilfields capable of benefiting from gas-based enhanced oil recovery. The project will mimic an existing operation near Houston, Texas.
Petroleum geologists are exploring the feasibility of mining and recovering microproppant material used in hydraulic fracturing from several locations along the Missouri River in North Dakota. Microproppant has become a widely used addition to the fracking process. The particles are typically smaller than sand and help establish the secondary fracture network further out from the wellboreâ€™s main fracture matrix. Geologists in North Dakota are studying loess, a substance common on river banks and cuts, is popular for its very fine grain size and high degree of permeability. As sand options have expanded past Minnesota and Wisconsin into places like Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma, researchers in North Dakota are also looking at in-basin sand options from North Dakota. The team is examining eolian and bedrock sandstone formations for potential fracking proppant. Initially, the researchers found North Dakota frack sand options came up short of particle strength specifications of the oil and gas industry, but recent changes in the fracking process have made North Dakota particles a possibility. The state has investigated 32 particle types from 13 counties and expects to continue its research and collect another 30 samples from more counties in the state. BR
BAKKEN CHANGE & EVOLUTION 20 BAKKEN YEARS WELL LOW END COUNT 70 OUTLOOK YEARS
New well initial production rates
OIL MOVEMENT 75% PIPELINE
Average 24-hour IP rates for Bakken gas
Average 24-hour IP rates for Bakken oil
1.2 TO 2.4
Existing ND Bakken wells production average per day
MCF/BBL Gas-to-Oil Ration in IP year
69% 7% WEST RAIL COAST
26% WEST COAST
KNOWING THE CORE FOUR WILLIAMS
$60,533 $52,284 $1,473
Wells producing: 2,658 Wells producing: 2,943 Oil produced: 7.4 M
Gas produced in Mcf: 16 M
Core Oil & Gas Counties in ND Per capital personal income
State of ND Per capital personal income
TOP JOB OPENING
BY OCCUPATION GROUP
Wells producing: 4,389
Core Oil & Gas Counties in ND Feb. 2019
Wells producing: 5,092 Oil produced: 18.1 M Gas produced in Mcf: 43.24 M
Wells producing: 2,159 Wells producing: 2,405 Oil produced: 8.0 M Gas produced in Mcf: 9.3 M
in Core Oil & Gas Counties
State of ND 2018
Transportation & Material Moving Installation Maintenance & Repair Construction & Extraction
Wells producing: 2,839 Wells producing: 3,081 Oil produced: 7.4 M Gas produced in Mcf: 12 M
22 NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
Core Oil & Gas Counties in ND Average weekly wage
PRODUCTION in Core Oil & Gas Counties
COMPANIES READY FOR BUSINESS
From the North Dakota Petrolum Council Buyers Guide NORTH More than 750 entrants, listed by state address provided COLORADO MONTANA WYOMING OKLAHOMA DAKOTA
NATURAL GAS LIQUIDS BREAKDOWN
BARRELS PER DAY 500,000 42,000 ALL NATURAL GAS LIQUIDS
ACTIVE DRILLING RIG COMPANIES Nabors Industries Ltd. Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. Cyclone Drilling Inc. Pioneer Energy Servivces Corp. Akita Drilling Ltd. Helmerich & Payne Inc. Unit Drilling Co. Noble Corp. Capstar Drilling Inc. True Drilling LLC Ensign Energy Services Precision Drilling Corp. Stoneham Drilling Corp.
WHOâ€™S ACTIVE IN OIL COUNTRY:
Equinor Energy Murex Petroleum Hunt Oil Co. EOG Resources Oasis Petroleum Petro-Hunt LLC Slawson Exploration Company Whiting Oil and Gas Corp. Crescent Point Energy U.S. Corp. Continental Resources Hess Bakken Investments XTO Energy Resource Energy Abraxas Petroleum Enerplus Resources USA Corp. Bruin E&P Operating Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Co. Marathon Oil Corp. Missouri River Resources Petrogulf Corp. Petroshale Inc. White Butte Oil Operations WPX Energy Williston Iron Oil Operating Nine Point Energy Legacy Reserves Operating
NP Resources Citation Oil and Gas Condor Petroleum Inc. Petro-Harvester Operating Co Newfield Production QEP Energy Co. Liberty Resource Management Co. Thunderbird Resources Wesco Operating True Oil LLC Sinclair Oil & Gas Kraken Operating Lime Rock Resources SHD Oil and Gas LLC Cornerstone Natural Resources Peregrine Petroleum Partners Zavanna LLC White Rock Oil and Gas Gadeco LLC Future Acquistion Co. Galaxy Oil Cobra Oil & Gas Condor Petroelum Rimrock Oil and Gas Prima Exploration Inc.
2018 ECONOMIC INVESTMENT TOTALS IMPACTS 2006-2018
$8.8 $660 $1.25 BILLION MILLION Drilled & completed wells
Drilled but uncompleted wells
Natural gas processing
BILLION BILLION BILLION
Rail & transport facilities
24 NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
Current Characteristics of
Bakken Well Completions As the well count in the Bakken or Three Forks shale formations continues to grow, the strategies deployed to hydraulically fracture each new well have changed when compared to previous approaches. A combination of factors has helped usher in a new fracture design and strategy used by many of the operators nearly every six months for the past several years. New mechanical downhole technology used to perforate and then plug a portion of the wellbore off allow for more precise puncture placements into the wellbore. Dissolvable material, referred to as a diverter, is being widely used to section off parts of a fracture network for a specified period, all to ensure each section of a wellbore gets its desired attention from perfs or proppant and isnâ€™t compromised when other sections are getting fracked. Downhole analytics and data sets are being captured through fiber optic cable. And, petroleum geologists continue expanding on their ever-evolving understanding of the rock at the micro level. All of these factors are also present during a time when many new wells in the Bakken and Three Forks formation are infill wells placed on an existing pad or next to a parent well previously drilled, fracked and brought onto completion. The interplay between the parent well and the child, or infill, wells has nudged engineers and completion consultants to factor in the ef-
PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY
5 Generation 5.0 (2019)
A Leader in Optimized Completions SOURCE: WHITING
• 635 –900 lbs/ft proppant • 220’ -280’ stage spacing • 15 -25 bbl/ft fluid • Reduced cluster spacing • All cemented liner PnP • Diversion technology in use with evolving techniques and variable products • Optimize the completions to the well spacing and geology • Increased fracture intensity
3 Generation 3.0 (2016 –2017) • 930 lbs/ft proppant
4 Generation 4.0 (2018) • 600 –1,200 lbs/ft proppant • 200’ –300’ stage spacing • 15 -40 bbl/ft fluid • 30’ –50’ cluster spacing • All cemented liner PnP • Diversion technology in use, evolving • Optimize the completion to the situation • Large geometry completions for infill wells in DSUs with high remaining recoverable oil in place • Near-wellbore completions for DSUs with high parent well count
• 240’ stage spacing • 25 bbl/ft fluid • 42’ cluster spacing • All cemented liner PnP • Diversion technology in use
2 Generation 2.0 (2013 –2015) • 390 lbs/ft proppant
1 Generation 1.0 (2010 –2012) • 240 lbs/ft proppant
• 300’ stage spacing • 9 bbl/ft fluid • 150’ cluster spacing • Mix of Packer, Ball-and-Sleeve & Cemented liner PnP
• 380’ stage spacing • 4 bbl/ft fluid • 380’ cluster spacing • Packer, Ball-and-Sleeve
26 NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
fects of placing and then stimulating a wellbore close to an existing wellbore. Despite the new matrix of factors impacting the overall effectiveness of a typical Bakken frack design, Bakken and Three Forks wells are surpassing previous production expectations by continuing with a focus on fracture optimization.
Optimized Completions Unlock Bakken Value Continental Resources, one of the largest Bakken producers to date, has reported a noticeable uptick in well production from 2011 to the present. The uptick is based on a combination of well placement and better frack jobs. In early 2018, Continental put three wells into its all-time top five producers list because of optimized completions. Each of the three wells averaged more than 1,500 barrels of oil per day for the first 30 days. The completion changes by Continental have also produced better returns per well. In 2011, a Continental well drilled and completed at an oil price of $65/b would yield a rate of return (ROR) of roughly 15 percent. By 2018, Continental was reporting a 140 percent difference from 2011. A well drilled and completed at $65/b yields a 140 percent ROR. For Continental and several other major operators, the focus on optimized completions has pushed the boundary of the core of the Bakken. Some operators now consider the core much larger than previously thought when new completion designs are deployed. Marathon Oil Corp. has expanded its core acreage using area-specific completion designs. A four-well pad in Marathon’s Ajax
area located in Dunn County, North Dakota, produced roughly 2,400 barrels of oil equivalent for the first thirty days. “Strong early results in the Ajax mark another important step forward in our ongoing efforts to extend the core of our Bakken acreage position,” said Lee Tillman, president and CEO of Marathon. “Through enhanced area-specific completion designs, and a lot of hard work from our Bakken team, we continue to meaningfully uplift the quality of our inventory.”
Committed To The Next Generation Of Completion Design No Bakken operator has touted its success with fracture design enhancements in the Williston Basin more than Whiting Petroleum. The operator believes it has always been ahead of the competition with testing and deploying new designs and methods. This year Whiting announced it was now using its Generation 5.0 design approach. The new approach centers around the idea of optimizing the completions to the well spacing and geology of each individual well. For infill wells the strategy is to concentrate more of the stimulation near the infill wellbore, lower the amount of sand used, place more entry points and use more diverter material. For wells further away from other wellbores, Whiting looks to create a mix of far-reaching fractures and near-wellbore concentration while using more sand, fewer entry points and diverter material to ensure all entry points are connected. No matter the well, Whiting now builds calibrated models for every area, uses multivariate anal-
The water doesn’t come out of the pores until you squeeze it. Acoustic energy is really, really good at squeezing these pores. In small core sample–size experiments placed in acoustic baths, we can see the oil flows easily and rapidly from the rock. Richard Hale, ORNL researcher
ysis to understand which completions factors impact production most and then works with service companies to ensure they have the latest technology. The main factors Whiting focuses on with new wells is entry points, frack stages, total fluid, proppant, diverters and lateral length.
Investing In The Frack In early 2018, shale pioneer Liberty Oilfield Services issued an IPO. The fracture design and pressure pumping experts at Liberty have shown how profitable and important the fracturing segment of shale, the Bakken included, can be. While Liberty has been providing returns to shareholders, it has also continued investing in its suite of fracture-related products. The company has created a proprietary and trademarked FracTrends database that includes results from more than 60,000 wells along with analysis tools. Another trademarked product Liberty calls Fraconomics, allows clients to use big data to find ways to lower a cost of a barrel of oil. To help customers in close proximity to populated areas, Liberty has created
a Quiet Fleet that features technology designed to minimize noise pollution created during pressure pumping operations. And, along with last-mile logistics for proppant-to-well timing, the company has also partnered with CAT to provide predicative maintenance management on equipment at the well site. Liberty’s focus isn’t just on the strategy for proppant placement or the use of diverters. The company now tracks, to the minute, the efficiency and activity of its frack fleets. Doing so helps the company greatly reduce client non performing time.
Next Gen Frack Firms On The Way In addition to the constant research and roll-out of tooling and proppant by major energy service firms, the evolution of the fracking sector has spawned several new firms designed to meet the needs of the modern market. Axis Energy Services represents a group of companies working to give operators more options with modern well designs and longer lateral lengths. “For too long, E&P companies in the U.S. have had two
Bakken Returns Better Than Ever
SOURCE: CONTINENTAL RESOUCES, INC.
1,100 MBOE Model (2018 $7.9MM)
980 MBOE Model
120% 100% 80%
800 MBOE Model 603 MBOE Model
430 MBOE Model $70
WTI Oil Price, $/BBL
choices for completions. They could use coiled tubing with reliability issues in longer laterals, or stick pipe requiring too many companies on site—often without the right equipment or crews,” said Wendell Brooks, CEO. “The mission of Axis is simple: to offer our customers a third option to reach new levels of efficiency.” John Schmitz, executive chairman for Axis, has also discussed the changing face of shale. “As the shale revolution enters the phase of capital efficiency and manufacturing growth, operators can’t afford to have legacy business plans and equipment slow them down or eat into their returns,” Schmitz said. “We formed Axis based on listening to our customers on the new business model and new equipment needed to get wells to production optimally and quickly.” Lime Rock Partners, a group linked to several shale plays including the Bakken, was an investor in Axis. The company uses data to determine drill-out times prior to starting the process and has new workover rigs and completion specialists focused on optimizing completions for long-lateral shale wells. To reduce the always-present challenge of frack hits between parent wells and infill wells, Reveal Energy Services has created a new product called FracEye. The system al-
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28 NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
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lows operators to make timely adjustments to wells being fracked on multiwell pads that feature parent and child wells. The system categorizes the type and severity of interwell communication by measuring the pressure response from a parent well as hydraulic fracturing proceeds normally in child wells. Geoscientists and completion engineers can use the data to determine if, or to what severity, a frack hit is taking place. The system looks for direct fluid transport from wellbore to wellbore, fluid migration increases, instantaneous pressure response in an offset well or, hopefully, if there is no signal of pressure change in a neighboring well. Austin, Texas-based Seismos received $10.5 million from investors to harness a software-based technology to also better understand frack hits. Through its product Seismos-Frac, engineers can adjust treatment solutions on the fly. The technology was developed in conjunction with Stanford University faculty.
National Lab Frack Attention At the national level, several research institutions from the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center to Oak Ridge National Lab continue to assess, test and research novel or intricate methods to better understand the future of fracking. Oak Ridge researchers are using a combination of neutron and
x-ray scattering to make fracking more efficient. The team is testing the possibility and effectiveness of introducing ultrasonic (acoustic energy) to the downhole rock prior to fracking to increase porosity and permeability once the stimulation takes place. “It's all about supplying energy into the formation to release hydrocarbons,” explained ORNL researcher Joanna McFarlane. “Think of a sponge filled with water,” Richard Hale, another ORNL researcher added. “The water doesn’t come out of the pores until you squeeze it. Acoustic energy is really, really good at squeezing these pores. In small core sample–size experiments placed in acoustic baths, we can see the oil flows easily and rapidly from the rock.” Ultrasonic techniques have previously been used to clear debris near the surface of a well. ORNL researchers believe the same technique might be applicable 8,000 feet below the surface. A team of researchers at Los Alamos National Lab believe shale stimulation will benefit from understanding previous tectonic movements and water seepage forces not previously considered. A mathematical model shows how branches form off vertical cracks along the wellbore during the fracking process. Further research, they believe, will help engineers better understand how to optimize fracture pumping rates and the viscosity of the fluids pumped. BR
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HYDROZONIX SPONSORED CONTENT
Meet the modern shale water company Water management services have expanded from sourcing and gathering to recycling and treatment. Five years ago, major energy service providers were just rolling out pilot-scale technologies and small-scale operations aimed at bringing commercially viable water treatment technologies to the shale field. Times, the technology available and the specialized group of companies in the water space have changed and evolved. Hydrozonix, a Texas-based water specialist, has created a foothold in the Bakken and other basins by offering water consulting, technology and services that have been successful at treating more than 100 million barrels of water across the unconventional landscape.
Understanding The Frack Water Cycle Because the quality of water used in a hydraulic fracturing job plays a critical role in downhole perforation and flowback success, Hydrozonix has emphasized a full-cycle approach. To ease the strain of bacteria, scaling and treatment additives on frack fluid formulations that can harm equipment, increase costs, or curtail production, the team now offers services capable of treating water at all life points, including: -On-the-fly treatment of frack fluids on site -Near-field offsite treatment of flowback and produced water for reuse -Removing bacteria from water in pits, ponds and impoundments -Evaporating produced and flowback water at remote wellsites
Water Experts At Work The water team at Hydrozonix includes scientists and engineers that hold PhDs in water chemistry, treatment, and petroleum engi30 NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
neering. The team has learned how to monitor and assess water used throughout the oilfield. With the increase of slickwater fracks and unique frack fluid combinations that now involve higher amounts of gel or diverter materials, the Hydronix team has learned how to adapt its focus with the changing focus of industry. Creating the best water for the application is only part of the service provided by the team. They now provide insight on storage options, filtration needs, frack treatments, consumption concerns, and overall economics.
Technology For H2O HYDRO3CIDE: The automated oxidation system produces ozone gas, which kills bacteria. Treated water can be used for future frack jobs. Hydro-Air Portable Aeriation: These systems aerate storage ponds to ensure water quality remains intact. On-The-Fly Treatment: Used alone or as part of the HzO Trio program, the mobile ozone treatment provides the final polish for water before reuse as a completion fluid. Bacterial Disinfection: At 100 barrels of water per minute, the system reduces bacteria by 99.9 percent. Recirculation and Retreatment: Used without liquid chemicals, the ozone-based system is the superior option for total disinfection, according to the company. Chemical Compatibility: A trio of products that, when combined, produce high-quality water for only $0.20/barrel. Hydroflare: The system burns gas that would normally be flared to evaporate flowback and produced water, so it does not have to be hauled away for disposal. BR
Take Three Steps to High-quality, Low-cost Recycled Water With the HzO Trio water management program from Hydrozonix
The Hydrozonix HzO Trio program uses ozone and innovative technology to replace conventional chemical programs. The result: more effective control of bacteria, iron and sulﬁde at a much lower cost.
1 2 3
Step One: The HYDRO3CIDE automated oxidation system treats produced and ﬂowback water in gathering systems. Step Two: The portable Hydro-Air Aeration System aerates and mixes water in storage pits and tanks to maintain water quality and prevent bacteria buildup. Step Three: The On-The-Fly oxidation system provides the ﬁnal polish by disinfecting water without chemicals that can be incompatible with frac ﬂuids. Operators that recycle with the HzO Trio combination have achieved higher quality water for a fraction of the cost of chemical programs—less than $0.20/bbl.
In Terms of the
BAKKEN The phrases, words and terms that reveal the evolution of the Bakken
Tim Wallace believes the shale energy services industry is on a path to make better use of data to improve performance, much like artificial intelligence applications with predictive analytics and IBM’s Watson computer. The Bakken shale play has evolved from an undeveloped unconventional oilfield into a globally recognized hydrocarbon producer capable of impacting world markets. At one time, the play consisted of only a handful of wildcatting operators and pioneering energy service firms willing to invest time and money into drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology unproven in the region—or anywhere else in the world. From the early days of Hail Mary fracks in Eastern Montana to the Parshall field to the latest iteration of the Bakken, the Williston Basin’s most-important geological formation has supplanted its place in the energy history of the world. In doing so, the Bakken has revealed itself as a massive, light, tight-oil-producing shale formation capable of yielding more than one million barrels of oil per day. During its rise as a global energy phenomenon, the Bakken has supplied oil and gas industry stakeholders, decision makers, investors, executives and the general public with a never-ending vocabulary list capable of defining the Bakken at the particular time during which a phrase or term was spoken or referenced most prominently. Understanding the evolution—including the past and the near-term future—of the Bakken means understanding the time-linked terminology of the play.
32 NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
Words From the Well Pad
Held By Production From the mid-2000s to 2013, the Bakken’s rig count rose dramatically before stabilizing in the high hundreds. Knowledge of the Bakken formation’s possibilities as an oil producer were well-documented and the play was creating unprecedented oil and gas production, construction and workforce opportunities in the areas most targeted. The success rate on a new well horizontally drilled and hydraulically fractured in the Middle Bakken formation of the greater Williston Basin was nearly 100 percent. As small-, mid- and large-scale operators rushed to secure future drilling and production rights throughout western North Dakota and eastern Montana, the play yielded a three-letter acronym capable of summing up this era of the Bakken’s evolution: HBP (Held-ByProduction). To secure drilling rights and future production opportunities, E&P’s needed to se-
cure their lease rights on contracted acreage. Doing so required the operators to drill at least one producing well on their contracted acreage within a specified period from the lease signing (typically three years), to avoid violating the terms of the lease, and jeopardizing the validity of the lease. “When you are scrambling to get a lease Held By Production, you kind of put economics on the back burner,” said Ken DeCubellis, the acting CEO in 2013 for non-operator Black Ridge Oil & Gas. During the time of HBP activity, operators paid higher prices per hour to keep a drilling rig spudding wells. Less-efficient, older rigs remained in service to keep up with demand. The HBP era was the end of a time when services and strategies were less focused on efficiency and cost-savings and guided instead on securing a future at any cost. NorthAmericanShaleMagazine.com
Words From the Well Pad continued
Infill Development After most of the Bakken’s acreage was HBP’ed and operators had the opportunity to focus more on developing— rather than securing—what they had, most began proving out and delineating the possibilities. Infill development was a term used to explain the strategies of operators as they looked to place future wellbores
into specific geographical zones and specific and horizontal lateral lengths. Those focusing on infill development were those capable of moving past the initial rush to secure acreage. Infill development spawned several innovative drilling, completion and production strategies that are still deployed in shale fields across the U.S.
Multiwell Pad Drilling The success of the infill development era in the Bakken was made possible due in large part due to multiwell pad drilling. Because operators no longer had to drill a single well on a lease and then move a rig to another lease also waiting to be HBP’ed, operators could leave a drilling rig on a single pad longer. The practice allowed for multiple wells to be placed on a single pad. Pads started to get bigger and more elaborate. Walking drilling rigs capable of deploying hydraulic lifts to move the rig from one spud hole to another greatly decreased the time it took to go from one wellbore to two wellbores on a single pad. From a single pad, operators learned they could place multiple wells and target the same, or different formations while still giving them the ability to effectively drain their reservoir through methods available at the time.
34 NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE ISSUE 4 2018
Words From the Well Pad continued
Energy Corridors The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources created the first-ever energy corridors. The term was used to describe a top-surface geographic orientation that maximized industryâ€™s access to well sites while minimizing their presence on the landscape. Spacing units that once showed random wellbore lines running in all directions
and at different lengths transformed into more unified images showing wells running in unison in a single direction. North Dakota energy leaders utilized 1,280-acre spacing units to create a uniform pattern of development that helped with pipelines, electrical lines and traffic patterns.
Decline Curves With each new operational advancement in the field, every well has become better and holds more promise than previous versions. The advancements could be linked to drilling more precise wellbores or fracturing more of the reservoir through new technology or approaches, but either way, decline curves have been a topic since the early days of the Bakken. Operators, analysts and investors all like to talk about how fast a well will decline in production. The initial production rate (linked to a period like 30 days or 3 months) is continuously rising in the Bakken. Decline rates have also risen, showing that new fracking and drilling techniques are making wells produce more oil at higher rates over a longer period.
Words From the Well Pad continued
Long-Reach Laterals In the early development of the Bakken formation, most laterals were drilled to 8,000 feet or less. By the time engineers and investors were referring to longreach laterals, the length of a lateral had changed. Most long-reach laterals placed in the middle Bakken today extend to three miles or roughly 13,000 feet. More efficient drilling bits, extended-reach coiled-tubing spools and more powerful drilling rig systems now allow operators to drill longer laterals, which they say can produce more oil from a single well.
Often misunderstood as a practice of wasting or getting rid of unwanted associated gas produced during the oil retrieval process, the term flaring drew national attention to the Bakken. Still a challenge that operators deal with today, flaring has referred to the venting of associated gas that takes place due to inadequate or a lack thereof of takeaway or gathering infrastructure. Technology creators, midstream companies, investors, policy makers and the public have all played a strong role in
36 NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
the usage of the term. In the early development days of the Bakken, flaring was common across the play and more than two-thirds of all gas produced in the play was flared. Today, infrastructure has been installed to take away gas streams in accessible locations. For the remote and hardto-reach areas of the Bakken, technology providers have created economically feasible options to capture and remove associated gas from the play.
Words From the Well Pad continued
Spud-To-TD Advancements in mud motors, drill bit materials and strategies to reach total depth on a well have come a long way. In the early days of the Bakken, a drilling rig crew typically required 45 to 60 days to drill an 8,000-foot well from spud (the surface hole) to the toe of the horizontal (total depth). The term became important and often referenced when the drilling rig count declined in the Bakken and other U.S. shale plays while production and activity levels remained. The U.S. Energy Information Administration also began tracking drilling rig counts and how efficient the rigs in each play were as the Spud-to-TD times fell across the U.S.
DUCs From late 2014 through 2017, the Bakken experienced a major decrease in activity due to low oil prices. Operators were unable to continue at their planned activity levels and had to pull back certain operations. Many began holding off on completing wells that had been horizontally drilled and were waiting to be hydraulically fractured before going on production. Research analysts began tracking the number of DUCs, or wells that were drilled but uncompleted. The state of North Dakota did the same. Some operators had to choose whether to invest or continue with a drilling contract and drill new wells, or spend their money completing wells. DUCs are still tracked today but have less prominence in the national context of shale oil production.
Words Away From the Wellhead
Crude-By-Rail Oil takeaway capacity via any means has always been an issue in the Bakken. As the Bakken’s production grew from the mid 2000’s to now, there has always been a disproportionate amount of takeaway infrastructure—pipeline, rail or truck—to match the supply from the play. Between 2013 and 2016, one of the prominent means to move Bakken oil to the East or West Coast was via rail. The reference to the transportation style helped advance the tank car specifications used to move oil across the country. Investors tracked the usage of crude-byrail and the practice spawned the growth and importance of another Bakken staple.
38 NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE ISSUE 2 2018
Words Away From the Wellhead continued
Transload Facilities The geographic sprawl of the Bakken puts wells in remote locations that are tough to get to or take a long time to return from to a major community. Transload facilities started to rise in popularity as the play developed. Operators, midstream firms and construction or logistics teams needed to moreefficiently and economically bring in and store equipment, goods or materials. Several facilities grew to offer sand storage, piping and casing yards and oil storage or offtake infrastructure connected via pipeline to larger pipelines running out of the region.
Saltwater Disposal Wells Like most shale plays, the Bakken system produces high volumes of saltwater brine during production. SWDs, or saltwater disposal wells, have grown in existence throughout the play. Wells are drilled into the Dakota formation where produced water is injected underground or stored at a SWD facility.
Words Away From the Wellhead continued
Lower-For-Longer At the start of the oil price downturn at the end of 2014, investors, analysts, oil price predictors and oil company executives all used the phrase lower-for-longer to insinuate which direction they believed oil prices would head in the months ahead. The term was present in the shale worldâ€™s lexicon for roughly two-and-a-half years and brought on another term.
Breakevens As operators began to find ways to maintain operations, workforce numbers and production numbers, the term breakeven was introduced into the Bakken scene and has been referred to ever since. Investors, operators and service companies all began to explain their breakeven costs. The term refers to the price point oil has to trade at for the investment of an oil well, service or operation to keep the company from losing money. Breakeven price numbers were estimated for geographical regions of the Bakken and were impacted by several factors, including infrastructure availability, lease operating expenses, and the initial rate of return a company was willing to take at any given oil price.
40 NORTH AMERICAN SHALE MAGAZINE BAKKEN REPORT 2019
Words Away From the Wellhead continued
Cash Flow With investors now looking to benefit from previous investments into shale energy production companies increasing, many oil and gas production executives are telling the industry that their plan for operation will remain within cash flow. Before the current investor push, operators were willing to outspend their yearly cashflow by taking on debt to drill and frack new wells. The goal was to grow production. Today, with a push to please investors, operators are focused more on operating within cash flow and limiting operations based on the amount of money they have generated from existing operations.
Two Million Barrels The main trend over time for Bakken oil and gas production is associated with increases. The Bakken formation, which currently accounts for nearly 95 percent of all the oil produced in North Dakota, has been pumping out more than 1 million barrels of oil per day for several straight years. Government officials and industry have both pushed for the Bakken players to continue the production increase trend in the coming months and years and work to surpass 2 million barrels per day. BR
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