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Drilling Time in the North Dakota Bakken


Horizontal Bakken wells are the most expensive out of the shale oil plays in the U.S. Depending on the lateral length and the type of fracture stimulation used, wells can run anywhere from $6 million to $12 million in the Bakken. Operators are constantly working on ways to keep well costs down, yet still maximize production and profit. Therefore, the time spent drilling a well can play in integral role in the completed well cost. Each day comes with a price tag and crews drill night and day in order to meet financial efficiency.

Using Drilling Info’s North Dakota Completions dataset, I pulled down time spent drilling horizontal Bakken wells and calculated an average of the drilling days over the past 12 months and compared that to the prior 12 months. This is simply a short comparison to see measure drilling time efficiency by Bakken operators in North Dakota.


A number of factors can influence the time spent drilling a well like weather, supplies, drilling crews, and equipment malfunction. All those factors aside, I wanted to observe lateral length by operator and see if there is a correlation between drilling time and lateral length.

This sheds a little light on lateral length governing drilling time, but also on which operators are getting wells drilled in a timely fashion. You can find more reading material on Bakken operators and drilling methods in the operator folder of Drilling Info’s DNA.

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