Rig count is at a record in the N.D. Oil PatchA record 218 rigs were drilling new wells for crude oil Tuesday in North Dakota’s Oil Patch, according to the state’s Department of Mineral Resources.
By: By Stephen J. Lee , Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
A record 218 rigs were drilling new wells for crude oil Tuesday in North Dakota’s Oil Patch, according to the state’s Department of Mineral Resources.
The number has been rising steadily the past two weeks, after it had ranged mostly 205 to 210 since September.
Each rig can complete a new well about every month, when moving to a new location is accounted for, according to oil industry leaders; some wells are completed in less than 20 days. Some rigs drill three wells on the same location, moving only a few feet and tapping the crude for 2 miles in each direction.
However, the hydraulic fracturing process that follows the drilling rig on to a new well location requires several more days before the well is in production. Plus, the number of “fracking” crews is less than needed, so there is a backlog of about 248 drilled wells waiting for fracking, according to Lynn Helms, director of the mineral resources department.
That’s about normal based on the past year or so of steadily increasing oil production in the state, Helms said in his latest report, “Director’s Cut,” on the website of the Department of Mineral Resources at www.dmr.nd.gov.
Nearly all the new wells — more than 95 percent — are being drilled into the Bakken and Three Forks formations, Helms said.
Production of crude oil and the accompanying natural gas continued to hit records in the latest month with figures available, according to Helms. In March, daily crude production averaged 575,490 barrels of crude per day from 6,971 producing wells. Some of the wells are decades old, but a growing percentage of the state’s oil production is coming from the newer wells in the Bakken/Three Forks formations.
Natural gas production averaged 620,848 thousand cubic feet in March, also a record. The low price of natural gas likely will continue with growing supplies, Helms said. But he said the high liquid nature of the state’s gas makes its economical to recover it, rather than simply burn it off, or “flare” it. The latest figures show 32 percent of the natural gas produced from crude wells is being flared off, down from the high of 36 percent in September and that number should continue to slowly decline, Helms said.
Helms’ office also reported Tuesday that each Bakken well will produce an average of 540,000 barrels of oil over its 29-year lifespan.
Stephen J. Lee is a reporter
at the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.