Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the tag “fracking”

Updates on Bakken

Gotta’ get that well back in production. Crew on workover rig working well after dark. Photo by James Ulvog.

Here are four articles providing a bit of background on what’s going on in Bakken.

You have likely noticed I have long relied on The Million Dollar Way for my education on oil in general and Bakken in particular. Just look at the source for the following four articles. That makes it sorta’ cool when on 3/22 MDW recommended my post Scratching my head at the geopolitical impact of fracking. Thanks for the mention!

2/19/17 – The Million Dollar Way – EURs – Bakken 2.0 – EUR means Estimated Ultimate Recovery, which is the total amount of oil expected to be extracted from one specific well.  Article says the EURs in Bakken were 300K early on. At the point I started paying attention, the EURs were in the 500K range with possibilities of 1,000K.

Article says Mike Filloon has been talking about 1.5M instead of 1.0M.

Now the article lists 14 wells with EURs of 1.5M up to 2.0M EURs.

Read more…

Scratching my head at the geopolitical impact of fracking

That little ol’ thing, along with 500 similar contraptions, is changing the world of oil production. Photo by James Ulvog.

Looks like we are in the midst of radical change in regional and world politics caused by the technological revolution in oil and gas production. I keep trying to wrap my little brain around what is going on. Here are a few articles that may stretch your brain too.

  • Brain stretcher on the shift in geopolitics due to increased US oil production
  • Speculation why the Saudi government’s plan to re-engineer their country’s economy isn’t going to work
  • Three articles on the rapidly increased US shale production undercutting the OPEC production cut

3/12/17 – PJ Media – The Problem of Success – Article raises the unsettling idea that nobody has figured out the impact of dramatically increased production in the US.

Neither the previous US administration, the current US administration, leadership in Saudi Arabia, leadership elsewhere in the Middle East, nor even pundits for that matter, have figured out how geopolitics will change as Saudi Arabia loses its role as dominant oil producer and the decentralized American drillers gain the swing producer role.

It stretches my brain even to understand there is an issue.

American frackers used the dramatic run up in oil prices to $100 as an opportunity to figure out how to frack oil where it could never have been touched before. They then used the collapse in prices as an opportunity to figure out how to frack far more efficiently, far more effectively, with far higher production output from every well. As a result, the break-even price for U.S. shale has shrunk.

The vast network of independent producers are responding to price changes far faster than OPEC could handle or the majors could ever dream of. Prices go up somewhat and in about three months US production is surging.

Read more…

What Peak Oil? I’m having trouble keeping up with all the billion barrel finds.

15 wells on 1 pad. Notice a drilling rig on right edge of view. September 2015 photo by James Ulvog.

Yeah, I’m still new to this effort of watching the energy field. One of the things that still amazes me is the frequency with which the geology wizards find another billion or so barrels of recoverable oil that ‘we’ didn’t know about and a decade ago couldn’t get out of the ground profitably even if the wizards had known for sure it was there.

3/9/17 – E&P – Repsol, Armstrong Strike Big Oil Find in Alaska’s North Slope – The two companies announced a find in the Nanushuk Play with 1.2 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Two wells confirm the find.

First production is expected in 2021, four years from now. Production level expected to hit 120,000 bopd, or 43.8M barrels a year.

Oh, what Peak Oil?

By the way, I’m having a hard time keeping track of all these massive new finds of oil which either nobody knew about a decade ago or it would have been technically impossible to ever get any of it out of the ground.

Read more…

Increasing employment in Bakken?

Workover rig, immediately north of Williston. Photo by James Ulvog.

Workover rig, immediately north of Williston. Photo by James Ulvog.

Update:  Greetings to readers arriving from The Million Dollar Way! Enjoy! Oh, by the way MDW, you are very welcome.  For other readers, if you enjoy my writing on energy in general, Bakken in particular, and the wide open frontier of the energy revolution, somewhere around one-quarter of the credit for what I know goes to the learning provided by MDW.

I’ll make a guess we will be hearing lots more stories of hiring in Bakken. Some recent articles:

  • Two articles on oil companies hiring fracking crews
  • Scuttlebutt is staffing shortages to develop
  • Two articles on Target Logistics converting crew camp into hotel

12/29 – Grand Forks Herald at Dickinson press – Oil companies hiring fracking crews in Bakken – Job Service North Dakota said there are 60 companies wanting to staff up fracking crews. Each crew will need between 45 and 65 workers, so that something in the range of 300 or 350 jobs in the new year.

Let’s extend that out. The Million Dollar Way helps us in a post asking Worker Shortage Looming In The Bakken on 12/30.

It takes about two or three days to frack a well. Assume two wells per crew per week. That would be 12 wells a week for 6 crews, or somewhere around 48 wells in a four-week month. Keep in mind that’s on top of whatever fracking crews are in the field now.

Read more…

Oil production in North Dakota drops 1% in November


Above graph shows the average daily production in North Dakota statewide and in the Bakken field. Output in November dropped to 1,033,693 bopd from October production of 1,043,318 (revised), a change of 9,625, or down 0.92%.

Mr. Lynn Helms has some observations, reported by Amy Dalrymple, ND Oil Production Stays Above 1 Million Barrels in November.

Read more…

EPA study: fracking doesn’t contaminate ground water.

Illustration shows the concept but distorts the proportion. Water is usually 500 or 1500 feet down. Drilling is usually 10,000 or more feet underground. That leaves somewhere around 8,000 or 10,000 feet of solid rock separation. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Illustration shows the fracking concept but severely distorts the proportions. Water is usually 500 or 1500 feet down. Drilling is usually 10,000 or more feet underground. That leaves somewhere around 9,000 feet or more of solid rock separation. Distance between oil and water is about 9 times the distance between the water and the surface. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The EPA spent millions of dollars and five years looking for some evidence that fracking causes contamination of ground water. They only found isolated indications of contamination, nothing widespread, and nothing systematic. Yet their report suggests otherwise.

12/13 – The Daily Caller News Foundation – EPA Says There’s No Evidence Fracking Contaminates Groundwater – The EPA spent five years, working with environmental groups, trying to find evidence that fracking causes contamination of groundwater. Even with five years of effort they could not find any evidence or indication of serious risk, only a few isolated incidents.

In spite of that, EPA withdrew a comment from the previous report that there’s no evidence that fracking causes contamination. The reason they withdrew their comment in spite of not been able to find any evidence? They can’t prove the negative that it doesn’t cause contamination.

Read more…

14 wells on one site southwest of Williston, the Atlanta wells – part 2 of 2

14 well pad next to Missouri River with Williston in distance. Photo by James Ulvog.

14 well pad next to Missouri River with Williston in distance, looking northeast. To find the pad, look for the light horizontal patch to the left of the bridge after the road crosses the left side of the river. Photo by James Ulvog.

Previous post described a well pad southwest of Williston that holds 14 working wells. These are referred to as the Atlanta wells.

I got some great pictures of the site from the air and from the ground on my recent trip to Williston.  Million Dollar Way just updated the production information for the 14 wells. So, decided to bring all that info together.

If you want to find this mega-producer, the address is 4750 141st Ave. NW, Williston. If you want to drive there, be advised the road off the 85 shown on Google maps isn’t there anymore. You will need to take a nearby side street. Coordinates are 48.109623, -103.729930 if you want to look them up on Google maps.  The pad is north of the Missouri River and west of the US 85 bridge over the river. 

Statistical data

The Million Dollar Way has been following these wells for several years. Check out this post for background and production data:

Here is some statistical data for the wells.

Read more…

14 wells on one site southwest of Williston, the Atlanta wells – part 1 of 2

14 wells on one pad, southwest of Williston. Photo by James Ulvog.

14 wells on one pad, southwest of Williston. Photo by James Ulvog.

There is one site southwest of Williston that holds 14 working wells. They are referred to as the Atlanta wells. Check out the photo above and following.

If you want to find these things, the address is 4750 141st Ave. NW, Williston. Coordinates are 48.109623, -103.729930 if you want to look them up on Google maps. It is immediately to the north of the Missouri River close to the bridge on U.S. 85 crossing the river. 

On my trip to Williston over Thanksgiving 2016 I was able to take some aerial pictures since I flew in on United flight from Denver, meaning we flew in to Williston from the south. I was also able to drive out to the site and take pictures from a public road immediately north of the site.

Six wells on east side of pad. Photo by James Ulvog.

Six wells on east side of pad. Photo by James Ulvog.

Read more…

If you like having gas for your car, food in the stores, and turning lights on after dark, here’s good news: Outlook for energy looking brighter.

Gonna' be seeing more of those in North Dakota soon. Photo by James Ulvog.

Gonna’ be seeing more of those in North Dakota soon. Photo by James Ulvog.

Outlook for energy production in the US is getting better and better. Might want to get out your sunglasses.

  • Low oil prices have spurred innovation amongst US drillers; file this under unintended consequences for OPEC.
  • Breakeven prices in US shale approaching that of OPEC producers; ponder that the breakeven price for Saudi Aramco is not the same as breakeven price for the Saudi government.
  • Overview of news in 2016 for oil & gas; good news for companies that survived the year.

12/2 – Tyler Morning Telegraph – Saudis awakened a sleeping giant when they declared war on fracking – Editorial says the Saudis made a serious mistake waking up the slumbering giant of fracking land. The artificially high prices allowed the frackers to get started. The artificially low prices forced them to innovate, cut costs, and start producing at breakeven points competitive to the OPEC giants. Not a good move.

Wouldn’t it be grand if that paragraph was the four-sentence history of fracking?

Production costs are half what they were two years ago.

Read more…

More graphs for background on North Dakota oil production in October 2016

Yesterday mentioned there was a big increase in oil production. Up 71,447 bopd in October, an increase of 7.35% for the month.

Here are a few more graphs to tell the story…

Value of monthly oil production, calculated by multiplying the rate cited in The Director’s Cut for average wellhead price in the state multiplied by average daily production. Amounts are in billions of dollars.



Average daily price in the state. This feeds the previous graph. Notice the substantial up tick in the last several months.

Read more…

North Dakota oil production increases 7.3% in October 2016

Those wells are just lined up so nice and neatly. Ponder the millions of gallons of gasoline each will generate. Photo by James Ulvog.

Those pads are just lined up so nice and neatly for mile after mile on each section line. Ponder the millions of gallons of gasoline each well will generate. Photo by James Ulvog.

Production saw a big increase in October. Output climbed from 971,760 in September (final) to 1,043,207 (preliminary). That is a 7% jump, moving production across the 1M point. That is a big increase. Why? Then some comparisons, then a couple of graphs.

Lynn Helms attributes the increase to operators opening up wells that had been throttled back and a few big wells coming on line, according a quote in the Wall Street Journal, North Dakota Crude Oil Output Rises to a Five-Month High. Yeah, the WSJ quoted Mr. Helms. They ran an article the day of his press conference to discuss the monthly report. How ‘bout that?

That is an increase of 71,447 bopd, the largest increase in one month going all the way back to 1989. Other months with increases of 40K bopd or more were:

  • 54,065 – September 2014
  • 52,099 – June 2014
  • 50,845 – July 2013
  • 42,653 – February 2013

That is an increase of 7.35%. Going back to 1989, the only months with a higher increases on a percentage basis were:

  • 10.2% – July 2011 – up 39,351 bopd
  • 10.6% – February 2010 – up 24,958 bopd

Some graphs…

Read more…

Random updates from Bakken

A new well is likely to produce about a million barrels of oil, compared to half a million from a well drilled several years ago. Photo by James Ulvog.

A new well is likely to produce about a million barrels of oil, compared to half a million from a well drilled several years ago. Photo by James Ulvog.

A few articles of late:

  • 2 hotels closed in Williston
  • Ground broken for new Williston airport
  • Each Bakken well now expected to produce a million or 1.5 million barrels of oil

9/27 – Williston Herald at Dickinson Press – Two Williston hotels closing their doors – An owner of two hotels with total of 105 rooms will be closing them this week. Both are on the market, for $3.0M and $3.2M. One of them reportedly had drugs sales and prostitution on site during the boom.

Don’t worry too much about capacity. There’s a huge number of hotels open in Williston, especially compared to three or four years ago. Also, those hotels won’t be going anywhere. When the drilling picks up, someone else can pick up those empty hotels for a real bargain. When the space is needed, they will be open.

10/10 – Amy Dalrymple at Oil Patch Dispatch – Williston Breaks Ground on New $240 Million Airport – Construction is underway for the new airport. It will have a 7,500 foot runway and four gates at the terminal. The new airport will be able to handle planes that can hold 165 passengers instead of the 50 passenger jets in use at the current airport.

Currently there are five daily flights into Williston, which is down from 11 at the busiest time of the boom.

12/4 – Million Dollar Way – The Bakken: How Things Stand Near the End of the Year 2016 –  The productivity increase in the last few years is staggering. Here are a few tidbits from the article, which is a survey of recent quarterly releases from the drilling companies.

Estimated Ultimate Recovery, EUR, is the amount of oil to be drawn from the well, I believe with only primary recovery. A few years ago (2011), the typical EURs were 550K barrels from middle Bakken and 450K from Three Forks bench. Read more…

Musing on oil prices and the oil industry; future for shale is looking good

Out of focus picture by James Ulvog.

Out of focus photo by James Ulvog. (Yeah, yeah, I know – don’t give up my day job.)

First article below says that predicting oil prices is a fool’s errand. The payoff of trying to do so, it seems to me, is it requires diving into the dynamics and trying to understand the production and demand aspects underlying the price of oil. Second article below delves into the dynamics.

11/28 – The Million Dollar Way – Musings on Shale as We Anticipate the “OPEC Meeting” – Discussion points me to the next article, which I would have missed otherwise.

Mr. Oksol agrees with the major points: OPEC’s effort (meaning Saudi Arabia) to shut down shale producers has been unsuccessful. They tried this once before back in the 1980s.

On the second point, he agrees shale producers will respond fast to any rise in prices.

Author agrees that the phrase “big bet” is an acceptable way to describe the Saudi strategy to take out shale producers but thinks a more accurate description would be “trillion dollar mistake.” As for me, either description works well.

11/28 – Mark Mills at Forbes – Shale Wars: Whither Oil Prices As Saudi Arabia Lets The Big Bet Play Out? – The author, to whom you need to pay serious attention if you are otherwise reading my blog, asks two questions on his way to sort out where oil prices are going:

  • How much damage has Saudi Arabia caused the shale drillers? In other words will they be able to respond to any change in prices are they out of the game.
  • If the answer is yes, how fast will shale drillers be able to respond?

Read more…

Another 20 billion barrels of oil. What Peak Oil? – #49

We are gonna' see a whole lot more of those things in Texas over the next few decades. Photo by James Ulvog.

We’re gonna’ see a whole lot more of those things in Texas over the next few decades. Photo by James Ulvog.

Oh, by the way, the geology wizards just discovered another twenty billion barrels of recoverable oil where the wizards knew something existed but had no idea how much.

Twenty billion barrels. Billion, with a B.

11/15 – Star-Telegram – Permian’s Wolfcamp formation called biggest shale oil field in US – Estimate from USGS is the Wolfcamp formation in the Permian Basin holds 20 billion barrels of oil. There are four layers of shale that make up Wolfcamp. That puts this find somewhere in the range of three times the size of the entire Bakken formation in North Dakota.

Read more…

Yet more news showing why we will continue to have plenty of oil

I don't know who owns those wells, but use this picture as a visual that shale companies in bankruptcy haven't stopped pumping oil. Photo by James Ulvog.

I don’t know who owns those wells, but use this picture as a visual that shale companies in bankruptcy haven’t stopped pumping oil. Photo by James Ulvog.

The concept that one should not bet against human ingenuity is key to realizing we won’t run out of oil and there won’t be a sustained runup in prices anytime soon. A few articles showing why I say that. Articles also show the severity of the catastrophic mistake made by the Saudi government.

  • There is a difference cutoff for the breakeven price of the company Saudi Aramco and the country Saudi Arabia. US shale producers can crank out tons of oil at prices far below what the Saudi government needs to survive.
  • Huge Kashagan oil field in Kazakhstan starts producing
  • US shale producers in bankruptcy proceedings are producing almost as much oil as the they were before prices collapsed. They didn’t close in their wells.

10/17 – Gary Sernovitz in op-ed at Wall Street Journal – Trimming Oil Output Won’t Keep OPEC States Afloat – Main idea I draw from article is that if OPEC reaches a deal to cut production, and if they get Russia to go along, and if the cut is enough to push prices up the amount they want, and if none of the producers cheat, then it still won’t keep the petrostates funded at the level they need to keep all their social programs going.

That is a lot of ifs and even if they all happen, it won’t matter much.

Amongst the many reasons this is the case, two stand out to me.

First, for the history of oil production, the easiest and cheapest oil to come out of a field is the first drawn. After that, the oil gets more difficult and more expensive. The opposite is happening in the fracking fields. The breakeven price is lower today in Bakken, Permian, and elsewhere than two years ago and the breakeven price looks to be going lower. That means the frackers can keep functioning with low prices and thrive with moderate increases.

Read more…

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