Expand Your Bakken Knowledge

By Luke Geiver | April 07, 2015

At a time when oil price uncertainty is guiding budget plans and drilling rig activity, knowledge truly is power. The hardcore desire of energy service firms, material transporters and operators of all sizes to find efficiencies has put a premium on information capable of justifying workforce retention, increasing well productivity, extending rig contracts or, in some cases, reducing service costs. For this month’s issue, we chose several data-heavy, information-rich stories as a way to be a part of the solution for those looking to expand their respective Bakken knowledge bases on everything from downhole consumable trends to executive team sentiments on workforce retention plans. The current oil price environment has moved many in the Bakken industry past the rig-chasing, get-it-done-fast mentality. Today, as oil hovers in the $50/barrel range, the time to make informed, well-researched decisions is now because every barrel—and the fiscal reverberations that follow—counts.

Sean Morgan understands the power of data. A former frack sand supply manager for a major U.S. operation, Morgan had seen how data—or lack thereof—can impact an operation. After Morgan and his team realized they were consistently reacting slowly to the evolving Bakken frack sand demand market, they turned to information to help them ship certain sand types to certain sand storage locations during the optimal time. With a compilation of downhole data, operator specific proppant usage and several other metrics, they turned a frack sand operation plagued with demurrage charges into a more efficient business. Navport analysts provided a one-off report on our wish list of the information sectors we wanted to offer for “Navigating Bakken Data,” on page 34. It tells of Morgan and crew’s unique journey to the formation of a data-centric team and features an unprecedented look at proppant trends, production by operator and other valuable insights in the North Dakota counties of McKenzie, Dunn, Mountrail and Williams. You can find which operators are producing the most oil with the least amount of proppant, among many other conclusions.

To shed light on the current service cost-reduction trending in every major energy play in the U.S., we dissected  an oil and gas survey that highlights energy service companies' views on the topic. Citadel Advisory Group, a boutique investment banking firm, told us that as crude prices fell and operators pushed for service-cost reductions, their phones rang constantly with calls from energy service firms, investors and others looking to see if, and how much, costs would or could be reduced. “Executives wanted guidance,” they told Emily Aasand for her story, “Dealing with Rig Decline, page 44,  “others just wanted reassurance.” 

A study recently completed by a team of North Dakota State University economists provides definitive assurance that the Bakken has, and is having, an incredible economic impact on the state. It provides data to support what the Bakken’s fiscal role has been the past five-plus years. Patrick Miller, staff writer, reviewed the study and spoke with each author of the study. His work for the story on page 54, reveals how accurate the study is, and more importantly, how it may change after it is completed two years from now. We hope you enjoy this month’s issue and add to your own Bakken knowledge at a time when rig count, well-productivity per rig, break-even costs and the other important terms of the Bakken circa 2015 are prevalent, because as we all know, knowledge is a powerful thing.

Luke Geiver
The Bakken magazine