Whiting Petroleum Exploits Cemented Liners For Major Production Gains

By The Bakken Staff | December 26, 2013

Whiting Petroleum Corp.’s transition to a cemented liner-based completion design has increased initial production rates without increasing well completion costs. Previously, the Denver-based exploration and production firm had been using a sliding sleeve and swell packer method for completing its Williston Basin wells. James Brown, president and chief operating officer of Whiting, said newly gained information on the quantity of fracture stimulations helped the company realize that, in many cases, the amount of fractures placed per discrete fracture stage using the sliding sleeve method was only allowing one or two fracks per stage. In some cases, the fractures were lining up with the swell packers that barricade one fracture zone from the next. 

In its Hidden Bench Prospect, Whiting has reported IP rates for two different wells both completed on Oct. 1. One used the new cemented liner approach, and the other was completed using the sliding sleeve method. The IP rate for the cemented liner well totaled 3,795 barrels of oil per day while the well using the uncemented liner reached just 2,715 bopd. 

The cemented liner portion of Whiting’s new completion methodology isn’t the only element of the new approach, however. The company has increased the amount of proppant used in its wells, and in some cases, deployed a slick water frack fluid system. A normal fracture job requires approximately 60,000 to 80,000 barrels of water. A slick water frack job usually requires roughly 250,000 barrels of water. The slick water does not contain the gelling agents used to suspend the proppants in the water before they arrive at the fractured regions. More water is needed to move the same amount of proppant when slick water is used. 

The combination of cemented liners, slick water and greater proppant volumes has Whiting rethinking previous estimated oil recovery numbers of its Williston Basin acreage. In 2014, Brown says he believes the company will reissue its EOR numbers to more accurately reflect the positive impact the new completion methodology will have on the company’s ability to retrieve crude. 

The new completion methodology doesn’t affect Whiting’s costs to complete a well either. A 30-stage sliding sleeve system, including the swell packers, costs roughly $350,000 per well, Brown said. The cemented liner system costs roughly $80,000 per well. 

Whiting is so high on its newly proven method that it is also using the completion design in its Permian Basin acreage, according to Brown. But, that doesn’t mean the company isn’t nearly a pure play Bakken operation. One of the knocks against Whiting is that the company isn’t a pure play, and because of that, investors don’t know how to evaluate the company, Brown told attendees at an investor’s conference earlier this year in Florida. “Thanks to the Bakken in North Dakota, we are becoming a pure play.”