March 22, 2012

Living on the edge of the bite

Living on the edge of the bite
McLean County being spared oil boom, so far

Slow and steady stays the course. And that’s probably how most residents in McLean County feel when it comes to oil activity as it encroaches into the county.
Those residents might have their wish come true.
Ron Ness with the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said the productive and economic edges of the Bakken Formation are being defined. And western McLean County is on the fringe.
The vast majority of drilling activity is in Williams, Burke, Mountrail, McKenzie, Billings and Dunn counties. All are west of McLean County.
The majority of activity in McLean County is confined to an area about 60 miles square in the extreme northwest part of the county.
Ness said rig count is a telling sign.
“The rigs never lie,” he said, noting there’s only one rig drilling in the county at present.
When the Bakken play first exploded just a few years ago, energy officials weren’t sure how large or where exactly the prime area was. The word was: “oil is coming, oil is coming.” But that was before parameters started taking shape.
Well, it hasn’t overwhelmed McLean County, and Ness thinks it more than likely won’t. But that doesn’t mean the area won’t see some impact.
Ness said the edge of the Bakken was found in the Parshall area.
“You can almost draw a line where the Bakken is going to be,” he said.
Some testing is underway and has been done in the western part of the county. Ness said he hopes to see that continue. But reality is that not many wells are being drilled in unproductive areas. Ness likens it to something area outdoor enthusiasts can relate to.
“The edges may be pushed in the future, but the cost of drilling the wells – it’s like fishing, you fish where the fish are,” he said.
Right now, the fish aren’t in McLean County. The bite is in Williams, Mountrail, McKenzie and other western N.D. Counties. And that’s where oil companies are focusing their attention.

The Weather Network