Whiting’s production gains now the norm, not a geologic exception

By Luke Geiver | February 22, 2017

Production gains for Whiting Petroleum Corp.’s Williston Basin wells are related to enhanced completion technology—not acreage high grading or region-specific geology—according to the Denver-based exploration and production company. Since 2014, Whiting’s 90-day average production rate in barrels of oil equivalent per day have increased by 84 percent, rising from 576 boepd in 2014 to 1,057 boepd in 2016. “What we are drilling now is reflective of all of our acreage in the Williston Basin,” said Jim Volker, CEO of Whiting. The gains for Whiting have come from wells spread out amongst the entirety of its Williston Basin acreage.

The major tenants of the new completion approach for wells in the Williston Basin include 10 million pounds of sand per well, increased entry points into the rock and diverter technology that more effectively places sand along the well bore.

In the Niobrara, Whiting intends to use the greater sand volume approach in new wells drilled and completed this year. According to the company, 15 wells will be drilled and completed in the first half of the year, with another 95 set for the back half of the year. Roughly 34 wells will be drilled with 10,000 foot laterals instead of the customary 7,500 foot lengths the company commonly deploys.

Equipped with its new completion know-how and oil prices above $50/b, Whiting is confident in its ability to push production growth starting in 2017 and increasing significantly in 2018. This year, the Williston Basin will receive roughly $580 million in capital. The company’s Redtail acreage in the DJ Basin will receive $420 million. Wells targeting the Bakken and Three Forks formations of the Williston will be drilled through a five-rig program. The Niobrara will have a one-rig program. Another $60 million has been set aside for non-operated drilling in the Williston Basin.

Proceeds, roughly $375 million, from Whiting’s asset sale completed last year have been used to pay down debt. Volker said the team will also continue to look at joint-venture deals this year.

Although the company has already built in a 20 percent increase for pressure pumping services, Volker believes field efficiencies, shorter drilling times and a better differential price for Bakken crude will help in 2017. When the Dakota Access Pipeline is completed, Whiting will gain $1 to $2 per barrel on the oil it sells. Takeaway markets in the upper Midwest and Wyoming are also looking better, he added. “I generally see a declining differential,” he said.