May 18, 2012

What is the future of the Bakken?

What is the future of the Bakken?

By Jerry W. Kram
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles about information presented at the MHA Nation Bakken Oil and Gas Expo held on May 8&9.
The biggest question facing planners in the Bakken is, “Yes, we have a crazy amount of activity now, but how long is it going to last?”
North Dakotans tend to view the oil industry a little bit like a boyfriend who has jilted us before. The memory of communities pushed into bankruptcy when oil activity plummeted in the 1980s is still fresh in many peoples’ minds. That has led some communities to be slow off the mark in responding to the needs of their rapidly changing populations.
At the MHA Nation Oil and Gas Expo, one oil company presented its plans for the next several years on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Steve Kovacevich
Marathon currently has eight drilling rigs working in North Dakota. Three of those rigs are operating on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Marathon began operating in the Bakken in 2006. It drilled its first well on tribal allotee’s land on Fort Berthold in 2008. In the 12 years working the Bakken the company has drilled nearly 300 wells.
“We expect to stay at this level of activity through 2019,” Kovacevich said. “We currently have 413,000 acres under lease in the Bakken and we are drilling 85 to 95 wells a year. By then we expect to have completed about 900 wells.”
In the short term, Kovacevich said the company wants to have 100 producing wells in the Shell Creek area by 2013, 41 wells south of Mandaree by 2014, and south of Parshall, where the company started working just last year, he expects to see 28 new wells in that area by 2014.
Kovacevich said working in the Bakken has been a learning experience. When the field was first opened, it took crews an average of 60 days to drill a producing well. That average is down to 30 days and Marathon has completed a well in as little as two weeks.
 


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