Megapads in Bakken

Photo by James Ulvog.
Check out all those wells. That is a huge pad. Photo by James Ulvog.

One thing that struck me during my September 2015 visit to Williston is the number of well pads with lots of pumps. Two years ago I was impressed by two or four pumps on one site. This trip, I noticed a lot of pads with 6 working pumps and lots of pads that were far too large for the one or two pumps in place. Obviously there are plans to put more wells on each of those pads.

Photo by James Ulvog.
Photo by James Ulvog.

The most amazing sight for me was a pad with 15 wells. Yes, 15. There are three in a row on the west side of the pad, six in a middle row, and six more in a row on the east. Will have several more shots of the site included in this post. The pad is at the end of a private road so all the pictures I have were taken from the nearby public roads.

Have been wanting to write about that pad for a while and was prompted to put my typing fingers to work when I saw a discussion of the site at Million Dollar WayVern Whitten Fall Portfolio.

Vern Whitten has a beautiful view of the site. You can see it as picture 28 in his Fall 2015 series of photos. Check it out. It is beautiful.

Back to my simple photos:

Photo by James Ulvog.
Photo by James Ulvog.

Google Maps – You can find the pad west of Ross, north of the 2 highway. Find the intersection of 94th Ave and state road 2. To the east of Ross, the east-west 2 is labeled as 63rd. The sign at 94th and 2 actually says 63rd. Going north from that intersection is a private dirt road, not visible on map view but you can see it on earth view. When I looked on 11/23/15, it showed the surface buildings, the middle 6 pumps, and one rig working on the west pumps. If I read this here new-fangled contraption right, the coordinates are 48.333785, -102.653962.

There is room for a lot more pumps on that site. For starters, the row of 3 wells could be expanded to 6. In addition, each of the rows could have two more pumps put in on the north side and another one or two on the south side. I don’t know how these things are spaced exactly but it sure seems to me like you could put another entire row of wells between the middle row and west row.

So if my simple, accountant, non-engineering brain gets the picture right, that 15 well pad could very easily be expanded to 18, could be expanded to 27 or 30 and could maybe even have another six or eight beyond that.

Photo by James Ulvog.
Photo by James Ulvog.

My son pointed out there are no storage tanks on the pad. When I first saw the megapad, I thought that meant all those wells were tied into a pipeline, or had a gathering line.

Actually, when you look at either earth view or map view, you see a crude oil transloading station a few hundred feet north and barely east of the pad. There is a double loop of railroad track. The long row of buildings is where the oil is loaded on tankcars.

There are two large storage tanks for the transloading station just over a mile away from the 15 well pad (48.340332, -102.630147). I am sure there is a pipe going from the pad directly to the storage tanks.

If you want a chuckle, look a little bit further to the east at 64th St. and 92nd Ave (48.343050, -102.616796). There you will see another pad about the same size as the one with 15 pumps. Even though it is about the same size it has a mere three, lonely pumps on the pad. I’ll make a not very wild guess that there will be another 15 or 20 wells on that site before it’s completely done.

Look around further at Google maps and you will see a number of other pads that seem way too large for the one or two wells in place.

Photo by James Ulvog.
View of the east row of pumps. Note the driling rig in the background. Photo by James Ulvog.

Million Dollar Way provides the following information for those 15 wells:

  • 25574, 333, Hess, EN-Riersgard 156-93-1718H-4, 4 sections, t12/13; cum 49K 9/15;
  • 25575, 493, Hess, EN-Riersgard 156-93-1718H-5, 4 sections, t11/13; cum 59K 9/15;
  • 25576, 447, Hess, EN-Riersgard 156-93-1718H-6, 4 sections, t12/13; cum 101K 9/15;
  • 21129, 777, Hess, EN-Riersgard-156-93-1718H-1, 4 sections, t2/12; cum 162K 9/15;
  • 21130, 739, Hess, EN-State C-156-93-1615H-1, 4 sections, t2/12; cum 132K 9/15;
  • 21131, 705, Hess, EN-Riersgard-156-93-1718H-2, 4 sections, t4/12; cum 218K 9/15;
  • 21132, 372, Hess, EN-State C-156-93-1615H-2, 4 sections, t4/12; cum 174K 9/15;
  • 21133, 540, Hess, EN-Riersgard-156-93-1718H-3, 4 sections, t4/12; cum 158K 9/15;
  • 21134, 456, Hess, EN-State C-156-93-1615H-3, 4 sections, t4/12; cum 129K 9/15;
  • 26718, 648, Hess, EN-State C-156-93-1615H-4, 4 sections, t5/14; cum 87K 9/15;
  • 26719, 777, Hess, EN-State C-156-93-1615H-5, 4 sections, t6/14; cum 98K 9/15;
  • 26720, 660, Hess, EN-State C-156-93-1615H-3, 4 sections, t6/14; cum 98K 9/15;
  • 28065, 597, Hess, EN-State C-156-93-1615H-7, 4 sections, t10/14; cum 76K 9/15;
  • 28066, 850, Hess, EN-State C-156-93-1615H-8, 4 sections, t11/14; cum 62K 9/15;
  • 28067, 669, Hess, EN-State C-156-93-1615H-9, 4 sections, t11/12; cum 81K 9/15;

The second set of numbers, ranging from 333 to 850, is called the IP, or initial production, measured in barrels per day. I know enough to know those are very impressive numbers. The second to last date preceded by the letter ’t’ is when the well reached terminal depth. The last number (ranging from 49K to 218K) is the cumulative thousands of barrels pumped as of the date listed. For having been in operation an average of about a year each, those are impressive numbers.

Photo by James Ulvog.
Photo by James Ulvog.

I will try to come back later to do some calculations based on those cumulative production amounts.

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