Whiting reveals impact of Gen 5 frac designs for Bakken

By Luke Geiver | February 28, 2019

Whiting Petroleum used 2018 to assemble and organize a new executive team and implement and prove-out a new generation of hydraulic fracture design for the Williston Basin. The 2018 focus is paying off. Much of Whiting’s acreage once considered Tier 2 could soon be considered core when the right, generation five frack design is used.

“The way we are driving proppants is driving results,” said Brad Holly, Whiting president and CEO.

The generation 5.0 design concentrates more of the stimulation near new infill wells, uses lower sand loading, more entry points and more diversion techniques for infill wells. The team is also trying to create a mix of far-reaching fractures and near-wellbore concentrations that feature higher sand loading, adequate entry points and diversion to ensure the entry points are connected.

The new designs all try to optimize the completions to well spacing along with geology. A range of 635 lbs./ft of proppant to 900 lbs./ft of proppant are placed on stage spacing at a range of 220 feet to 280 feet. Per foot, 15 barrels to 25 barrels of fluid is used. All wells are fracked with a cemented liner using plug-n-perf technology along with diversion technology.

Several members of the executive team touched on the new design as reason for optimism going into 2019 where the company may pursue acreage acquisitions armed with its new completion design knowledge. Holly said the team will never try and find a cookie-cutter design for completing Bakken wells, however, and that they will always being looking for the next best thing.

On the executive team additions and changes, Holly was confident in the moves. “If we get the right people on the bus in the right seats,” he said, “we can drive from good to great.”

This year, Whiting expects to grow production by roughly 11 percent and spend $820 million, all of it in the Bakken. Each quarter, Whiting will drill more than 30 wells. The company will complete 30 wells in Q1, 52 wells in Q2, 43 wells in Q3 and 29 wells in Q4. Although Whiting will only bring on 12 wells to production in Q1, it will ramp up in Q2 by bringing 58 wells onto production, followed by 45 and 31 wells onto production in Q3 then Q4.

The North Williston Team will get $216 million to drill and complete wells in the Cassandra and Wildrose areas. The East Williston Team will receive $180 million to drill 60 wells, complete 40 wells and put 37 wells on production. Some of the wells will be Three Forks infill wells. The South Williston team will use $266 million to focus on drilling 53 wells and completing 57 wells.

To help drive cash costs down, the company has established water gathering systems for produced water, renegotiated lower rates for existing produced water systems and implemented well monitoring and intervention technologies.

At $55 NYMEX oil prices, Whiting will grow free cash flow.