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Bakken operator type curves, how are the top operators progressing?


In a recent blog for the Barnett Shale I jumped into some analysis of type curves for the most active operators in the play and I think it brought about some interesting finds (see What “type” of operators are top operators in the Barnett Shale?).  I decided to use that same type of analysis in the Bakken because of the insight that the Barnett blog presented as it relates to operator recent progression in the play.

We started by outlining the guidelines I used to choose the top operators and pull the production data.  Our dataset consisted of US Bakken wells that came online from January 2006 forward and have recent production.  This helped limit our analysis to more recent operator performance and focused on the more recently active fields such as Montana’s Elm Coulee field which was discovered around 2001 and North Dakotas’ Parshall and Sanish fields discovered circa 2006.  We then used this data to sort for the top operators based on barrels of oil equivalent per day (Boe/d) using a 6:1 gas to oil ratio.  One interesting thing to take note is the well counts compared to production volumes when looking at the following table of operator production and well counts.

Now a quick caveat, although we are looking at vintage type curves as a proxy for operator progression, or learning curve, there are many factors in overall operator performance in these shale plays such as acreage grading, play infrastructure limitations, economic considerations, etc…  With that said, operator vintage type curves can give us a general idea of how the operators are progressing year over year.  Another idea that we are using in our evaluations of the curves is something that we are taking from the Barnett Shale and that is the strong relation between peak production and EURs.  We at DI Energy Strategy Partners are in the process of producing a Bakken Unconventional Platform that will dive into this relation deeper in this specific play so look for that in the coming months.

We will start with Continental.  We can see that Continental seemed to have a substantial decrease in peak production from the 2006 wells to the 2007 wells dropping from 280 Boe/d to 178 Boe/d which equates for a -36% difference.  From 2007 forward the series peaks increased with the largest jump from wells that came on in 2009 to 2010 wells with a 71% increase and topping out at 572 Boe/d for 2010 wells.

Whiting’s 2006 wells started with a small type curve peak volume of 79 Boe/d.  One thing to note is that they only had 5 wells come on in 2006 to contribute to series peak.   The 2007 series peak also had 5 contributing wells but those wells had a peak volume of 361 Boe/d which is a 358% increase.  Whiting’s peak production then increased in 2008 106% passing Continentals overall peak of 572 Boe/d with 592 Boe/d.  The Company has a good start in 2010 with their highest peak of 806 Boe/d as we can see below.

EOG has a different trend all together when looking at their vintage type curves.  The type curve series peak for their 2006 wells, 240 Boe/d, was substantially lower than their 2007 wells which is 655% higher at 894 Boe/d, the highest peak out of all of the operators we are evaluating.  EOG’s peak production has since decreased -58% from 2007 to 2008 series, -455% from 2008 to 2009 series, and finally -108% from 2009 to 2010 series.

These type curve series peaks are easily compared in the following graph of each operator’s peak production year over year.  It is interesting to see how each operator is trending moving forward and in the coming week it will be interesting to see what they have to say about the current state of their Bakken activity when we start covering their 2Q 2010 quarterly reports and conference calls.

To learn more visit the Bakken Operator Unconventional Update Folder in DI’s DNA.

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Anne Leonard

In January 2015, Anne Leonard headed the team that launched the latest addition to DrillingInfo’s international publications, International Scout Frontier North America which covers the US Gulf of Mexico as well as Maritime and Arctic Canada. She has been reporting on exploration and production for more than 30 years. She began her career in Denver covering the Rocky Mountain Region, and has spent the last 10 years covering the international arena, with a particular focus on Latin America, Africa, Western Europe and the Far East. Anne received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Nebraska.