Tight oil production in North Dakota was again flat in October, at 1.07 million b/d.

Of the core counties, Williams has been hit the hardest, as it lost 50% of output in just 2 years. It also sees stagnating well results and rising gas/oil ratios

This article contains still images from the interactive dashboards available in the original blog post. To follow the instructions in this article, please use the interactive dashboards. Furthermore, they allow you to uncover other insights as well.

Visit ShaleProfile blog to explore the full interactive dashboard

These interactive presentations contain the latest oil & gas production data from all 16,888 horizontal wells in North Dakota that started production from 2001 onward, through October.

Total production

Oil production in North Dakota from horizontal wells was flat m-o-m for the 2nd month in a row, at 1.07 million b/d in October. Natural gas output, at 2.9 Bcf/d, was close to the historical high in November 2019 (3.1 Bcf/d). Only 492 new horizontal wells were completed through October, the lowest number since 2009.

Supply projection

Still, activity is also picking up in this basin, and as of last week 26 rigs are drilling horizontal wells, according to Baker Hughes, the highest number in more than 1.5 years. If well productivity and rig efficiency stay where they are, this level could sustain an output of just over 1 million b/d going forward (from our Supply Projection dashboard😞

Horizontal rig count and tight oil outlook in North Dakota, based on the current rig count and well/rig productivity.

The top chart displays the horizontal rig count over time, while the bottom chart plots the total oil production from existing and future horizontal wells.

Well productivity

Production is down in each of the 4 core counties of the Bakken; Dunn, McKenzie, Mountrail, and Williams. But the decline is the steepest in Williams County, which produced only 136 thousand b/d in October, just half from what it produced 2 years earlier (271 thousand b/d in November 2019).

Here we can see that well productivity has not increased in Williams county since at least 2017:

Well productivity (average production rate versus cumulative oil production) in Williams County (ND). Horizontal wells completed since 2014 only.

As lateral lengths have somewhat increased during the last few years, normalized well productivity in Williams County has actually slightly fallen.

Interestingly, Williams County is still in 2nd place in terms of total gas production. The gas/oil ratio has steadily increased over the years, and newer wells reach a GOR of 4 Mcf/barrel within 2 years on production:

Gas/oil ratios in William County.

On the map all wells here are colored by the gas/oil ratio in the most recent month. The bottom right chart shows the performance of all wells, by vintage year of first production (production rate vs. months on production), while the bottom-right chart plots the average gas/oil ratio for the same wells.

Top operators

The final tab shows the production history and location of the top 16 operators in North Dakota. Unlike most operators, Enerplus has strongly grown production here, and is now almost as large as ConocoPhillips, which was for a short while was the number 2 in North Dakota (and the number 1 before 2008).


Early next week we will have a new post on the Permian, for which we already have production data through October for most wells.


For these presentations, I used data gathered from the following sources:

  • DMR of North Dakota. These presentations only show the production from horizontal wells; a small amount (about 40 kbo/d) is produced from conventional vertical wells.
  • FracFocus.org

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