Operators Take Different Steps to Become Bakken Pure Plays

By The Bakken Magazine Staff | October 04, 2013

For investors looking for a pure play Bakken bet, either Emerald Oil Inc. or Oasis Petroleum Inc., exploration and production firms, may be the answer. Both recently made significant but vastly different moves to enhance their respective company’s status as pure play operations focused solely on the Bakken and Three Forks formations in the Williston Basin.

Oasis Petroleum acquired 161,000 net acres in the Bakken for roughly $1.5 million, putting the company’s net acreage position in the Basin at 492,000. Thomas Nusz, chairman and CEO of Oasis said the additional acres not only put Oasis near the top of the list for all Williston Basin operators, but the move also makes the company the top pure play in the Bakken. “We’ve always said we want to build large continuous blocks where we can drive operations and efficiencies at scale,” Nusz said of the new acreage. Of the 161,000 acres acquired, 136,000 net acres are in or around the company’s West Williston project. The acres were purchased for $1.45 million. The other 25,000 acres are located in the company’s East Nesson project area.

Emerald Oil took a different approach to becoming a Bakken pure play operator. Through two separate transactions, the company sold nearly all of its non-operated Williston Basin acreage for roughly $113 million. The Denver-based firm sold 26,580 acres that has a current daily production of 850 barrels of oil per day. “These divestitures complete Emerald’s transition to a large-scale, pure play Williston Basin operator,” said McAndrew Rudisill, Emerald’s CEO. The move puts Emerald’s total Williston Basin acreage at nearly 33,300 acres.

Like Oasis, Emerald intends to put a large focus on maximizing the production and efficiencies of its current acres. Both companies point to frack design tweaks as main components of greater production. And, both companies will continue to expand. Oasis is currently operating 11 drilling rigs, with plans for 15 to 16 rigs in 2014.