With Bakken production nearing record again, fringe areas in play

By Luke Geiver | January 19, 2018

Bakken oil production is back to a record breaking pace. Lynn Helms, director of North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Oil and Gas Division said during his recent monthly update that by mid-2018—or sooner—North Dakota will meet or surpass 1.2 million barrels of oil produced per day.

In addition to activity in the core of the core areas within the Williston Basin, Helms also said operators are beginning to expand back to the outer regions of the basin. Oil prices in the current range makes production from areas in Divide, Burke and Northern Williams Counties attractive once again. In total, 95 percent of the oil production from North Dakota targets the Bakken and Three Forks formations.

North Dakota currently has more than 12,000 unconventional wells producing and nearly 60 drilling rigs. Operators have indicated plans to Helms and his team that throughout the year, roughly 10 more rigs will be added to the state.

In early January, Bakken producers were earning almost $55 per barrel of oil.

According to Helms, operators have shifted from running the minimum number of rigs to increasing activity based on shifts in oil prices between $45 and $60 oil. Helms believes if oil stays above $55/b for roughly three months, rig count will continue to rise. If oil trades at $45/b or lower for 30 days, drillers will reign in operations.

Workforce availability and infrastructure constraints continue to play a part in production, he added.