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Ron Patterson

Ron Patterson

Ron Patterson is a retired computer engineer. He worked in Saudi Arabia for five years, two years at the Ghazlan Power Plant near Ras Tanura…

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Surprising Production Numbers From North Dakota

Surprising Production Numbers From North Dakota

The North Dakota Industrial Commission has released the Bakken and North Dakota monthly production numbers for December 2014. There was a bit of a surprise as Bakken and all North Dakota production was up just over 39,000 barrels per day.


Since Bakken production was up at almost the exact same amount as the rest of North Dakota, (Bakken up 39,080 kbd vs. 39,086 bpd for ND), this suggests that all the wells being brought on line are Bakken and Three Forks rather than conventional wells.


The North Dakota change per month, 12 month trailing average reached a new high in December of 25,006 barrels per day. That means North Dakota oil production was up an average of 25 thousand barrels per day every month in 2014.

From the Director’s Cut:

Nov Oil 35,647,735 barrels = 1,188,258 barrels/day
Dec Oil 38,047,667 barrels = 1,227,344 barrels/day (preliminary)(NEW all-time high)
1,163,352 barrels per day or 95% from Bakken and Three Forks
63,992 barrels per day or 5% from legacy conventional pools
Nov Producing Wells = 11,951
Dec Producing Wells = 12,124 (preliminary)(NEW all-time high)
8,826 wells or 73% are now unconventional Bakken – Three forks wells
3,298 wells or 27% produce from legacy conventional pools

Nov Sweet Crude Price = $60.61/barrel
Dec Sweet Crude Price = $40.74/barrel
Jan Sweet Crude Price = $31.41/barrel
Today Sweet Crude Price = $34.50/barrel (lowest since February 2009) (all-time high was $136.29 7/3/2008)

Nov rig count 188
Dec rig count 181
Jan rig count 160
Today’s rig count is 137 (lowest since July 2010)(all-time high was 218 on 5/29/2012)

The statewide rig count is down 37% from the high and in the five most active counties rig count is down as follows:

Divide -62% (high was 3/2013)
Dunn -45% (high was 6/2012)
McKenzie -28% (high was 1/2014)
Mountrail -41% (high was 6/2011)
Williams -40% (high was 10/2014)

Related: As Rig Count continues To Fall, Production Soars To Record Highs

The drilling rig count dropped 7 from November to December, 21 more from December to January, and has since fallen 23 more from January to today. The number of well completions increased from 48(final) in November to 173(preliminary) in December. Oil price is by far the biggest driver behind the slow-down, with operators reporting postponed completion work to avoid high initial oil production at very low prices and to achieve NDIC gas capture goals. There were no major precipitation events, only 3 days with wind speeds in excess of 35 mph (too high for completion work), and 2 days with temperatures below -10F.

Completions outpaced drilling in December. At the end of December there were an estimated 750 wells1 waiting on completion services, a decrease of 25.

Rig count in the Williston Basin has fallen rapidly. Utilization rate for rigs capable of 20,000+ feet is about 70%, and for shallow well rigs (7,000 feet or less) less than 50%.

The North Dakota rig count stands today at 137 with the next location listed as “to be stacked” number at 7. Of course many of those listed as “Undetermined” are likely to be stacked as well.

Helms did not mention the number of wells completed, only that they outnumbered drilling by 25. However the number of wells producing in the Bakken increased by 209 while the total number of North Dakota wells increased by only 166. This means that at least 43 conventional wells had to be shut down.


An increase in 209 wells producing in the Bakken is a near all-time high. With 750 wells awaiting completion it now all depends on fracking crews. Related: Oil’s Survival Of The Fittest: Interview With Stan Szary

On another subject, I found the following chart interesting. The Data is from the EIA and is the average for all the US.


Why are diesel prices outpacing gasoline prices?



Beginning in 2004, diesel prices started outpacing gasoline prices. As late as June 2009 there was a short period where gasoline prices were higher than diesel but then diesel prices started to climb and have been well above gasoline prices for over 5 years now. Why? Is it because of more demand or is it because there is less diesel in the lighter crudes being produced in the US?

And one last point on another subject. About a couple of weeks or so ago there was a guest essay by Tom Giesen attached to one of my posts. It was on the problems of fracking. One commenter who goes by the handle “Clueless” asked me if I was a member of that cult. I replied with a somewhat ambiguous answer that I now wish I could change. I would change it because I wuz wrong! Now I neither a friend nor foe of fracking, but the process should stand or fall on its own merits and the public should not be mislead by a lies an half-truths.

Several months ago I watched the documentary Gasland and was highly impressed. But a couple of days ago I was browsing Netflix documentaries and came upon a documentary called “Fracknation”. It was a critical examination of “Gasland”. I was shocked! Gasland was so full of lies and half-truths it is alarming. For instance those flaming water faucets. It turns out that they have been doing that for ever since running water in those places. And it does it in places where there is no gas fracking for many miles. It is just methane in the same area as the water table.

Josh Fox, the producer of Gasland, said a shale well can be fracked up to 18 times. and each frack takes 1 to 7 million gallons of water. Then he stated there are 450,000 fracked gas wells in the US so 7 million barrels times 18 fracks comes to about 40 trillion gallons of water. Obviously he was confused between “fracked stages” and “fracked wells”. And apparently someone informed him of his stupid error because that segment has been removed from the Youtube version but still remains in the Netflix version.

Fracknation is not available on Youtube but is on Netflix. Another expose of Gasland, that can be found on Youtube is Truthland. It is a shorter video, 35 minutes. It is good but not quite as good as Fracknation. Here is a short video of how Fracknation got started: FrackNation the documentary that exposes Joshua Fox as a liar?

By Ron Patterson of http://peakoilbarrel.com/ 

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Leave a comment
  • Lee James on February 18 2015 said:
    Now that the metric used with conventional extraction: "Rig count," is not the whole story for extraction activity, maybe readers like myself could use a tutorial on what to count.

    We used to have one hole per well pad, and a single, "let 'er rip!" Now we have multiple holes per pad, and multiple well completion cycles -- often into the teens.

    Do we need to monitor unconventional petroleum production using different metrics? Drilling "rig count" doesn't quite do it for me when referring to a shale play.

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