Continental Plans to Remain Top Leaseholder

By The Bakken Magazine Staff | October 04, 2013

Continental Resources Inc. is the Williston Basin’s No. 1 leaseholder, and based on the company’s plans for 2014, that won’t be changing. Continental is planning 300 net Bakken well completions and a drilling budget 16 percent higher than this year’s, with over 71 percent of it budgeted to the Williston Basin. The remaining portion of the drilling budget will go toward the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province.

Although the Continental team may have massive monetary resources and proven techniques for developing its acreage, that doesn’t mean Continental will stop seeking additional acreage in nonderisked areas or continue to deploy the same well-completion techniques it has used to date. In the Bakken, derisking acreage means proving the commercial viability of crude extraction through several wells. Rick Bott, president and CEO of the company, said that although the company has derisked roughly 3,800 acres for full-field development of the middle Bakken and first bench of the Three Forks formation, it will continue to push the envelope on acreage outside its derisked area.

Research on the lower benches of the Three Forks will help. In 2013, the company has been running a pilot program to test the lower Three Forks potential productive footprint through a 47 gross well program. While the research will continue in 2014, Harold Hamm, Continental Resources CEO, believes the second bench of the Three Forks is much like the first bench as it features the same well profile.

In addition to its Three Forks verification research, the company is also trying new well-completion approaches. “One of the things we’ve always tried to do is to continue to look over the fence and not get locked into a certain way of doing things,” said Jeff Hume, vice chairman of strategic growth initiatives. During a conference call to explain its 2014 goals, Hume revealed that the company had just performed its first two slick water fracks, a process that utilizes friction reducers with water to provide a faster working fluid that can be pumped into a well bore at high rates. Hume did say the slick water process was more expensive, but by end of 2014, the company intends to reduce its well-completion costs by roughly 3 to 5 percent.

Grass roots and lightly developed acreage in the Williston Basin might be hard to come by, but Bott said the company still is able to find additional acreage. “We have an active and ongoing leasing program in the plays that we are in and we continue to pool and do the things that increase our equity ownership. Those [Bakken and Scoop] are the plays we love, there is no reason to not keep adding to them.”