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Aug 10 11 4:17 AM
Published: Aug 08, 2011
(Dow Jones) Spring snowfall, ice and flooding in North Dakota should make for some sloppy second-quarters among smaller, Bakken Shale-focused oil producers reporting results this week, Canaccord Genuity says. "The limitation from producing wells given the extended road closures will likely be greater than investors expected with many wells shut-in and the backlog of wells to be completed building," firm says. Firm lowers full-year production estimates 15% and expects "flattish to marginal" 2Q growth. Among Bakken producers reporting: Brigham Exploration (BEXP), today after market, and Abraxas Petroleum (AXAS), following Tuesday's close. BEXP off 11%, AXAS down 15%. (firstname.lastname@example.org)Call us at 212-416-2184 or email email@example.com
Aug 12 11 3:06 PM
Earlier this week, markets plummeted to levels not seen in years. Selling was indiscriminate. Investors ran for cover and pulled the sheets over their heads, waiting for the boogeyman to go away.
On Tuesday he did, but he reappeared on Wednesday. Perhaps one of the more interesting events has been the rout in the crude oil markets. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled out at $78 on Tuesday.
However, that price was short lived. Wednesday’s crude oil inventories report showed U.S. crude supplies down 5.3 million barrels, much lower than expected. Gasoline supplies were down 1.6 million barrels.
Regardless of what the day-to-day markets are doing, the long-term outlook for oil remains bullish, particularly in light of a continued, steady increase in global demand…
Natural Gas Drillers Shifting to Liquid-Rich Shale
It’s especially true here in the United States, where most of the large natural gas drillers have shifted over to the liquid-rich areas of shale plays.
As evidence of that, take a look at the following graph from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
It clearly shows the dramatic rise in crude oil and condensate production, particularly from the Barnett and Bakken shale formations.
The most interesting part of this graph is that the 2009 number of about 55 million barrels is going to seem very small in just a couple of years.
All of the plays listed in the graph – plus a few more not shown – have acreage that’s rich in liquids. Some more than others. That’s where the drillers have moved their rigs to, and they’re actively drilling there.
Why? With natural gas prices around $4.00, there’s a lot more money in the liquid part of the plays for the drilling companies, and that’s what they’re targeting.
Its recoverable reserves keep rising, too. Continental Resources (NYSE: CLR), the top producer in the Bakken, estimates recoverable reserves of as much as 24 billion barrels of oil buried there.
Right now, Bakken is limited to about 800,000 barrels per day, but new designs for increasing the pipeline infrastructure will raise overall capacity to about 1.1 million barrels per day in just a few years.
What About Other Shale Oil Areas?
While the Bakken is certainly a hot area right now for liquids, other shale plays previously known for natural gas production are now producing significant volumes of liquids:
Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) expects 50 percent of its increase in revenue in 2011 to come from increased liquids production in the Marcellus shale formation.
Drilling for shale oil is big business. Baker Hughes, Inc (NYSE: BHI) indicates in their weekly rig count that there are currently 1,099 rigs drilling horizontal wells in the United States. That’s an increase of 19 from the prior week and 221 from the year before.
While Hughes doesn’t break out rigs that are specifically drilling horizontally for oil, its U.S. oil rig count is up 420 from a year ago. We can certainly infer that a lot of those rigs are horizontal units operating in the shale plays.
With natural gas prices still near historic lows, the best profitable plays will be in companies who are and will continue to be drilling and producing in the liquids-rich shale plays in North America. They include, but aren’t limited to, the two companies mentioned above.
Aug 15 11 5:01 AM
If there’s any doubt that domestic drilling of oil and gas generate huge and significant positive economic benefits (more jobs, income, output and tax revenues, stable/rising housing prices, etc.), the booming economy in North Dakota provides a convincing case study. The Peace Garden State’s economy is doing so well on so many different measures, here are some highlights of its ongoing, record-setting economic success:
1. North Dakota set a new monthly oil production record of 11,540,000 barrels in June, which was above its year-ago level by 22% and above the June level two years ago by 79% (see chart above). Oil production this year has averaged more than 10.8 million barrels per month, which is double the monthly production levels in 2008, and triple the levels from five years ago.
2. Oil-related employment in North Dakota has more than doubled in just two years, from 6,900 jobs in June 2009 to a new record of 15,600 jobs in June of 2011. While the national economy struggles with another “jobless recovery,” North Dakota has continued to add jobs, and not just oil-related jobs. The overall state employment level reached an all-time high in May and was 2.5% above the June 2009 level when the recession ended.
3. North Dakota continued to lead the country in June with lowest state jobless rate of 3.2%, which was lower than second-place Nebraska’s rate of 4.1% by almost a full percentage point, and was a full six percentage points below the national June jobless rate of 9.2%.
4. North Dakota home prices have risen consistently through the national housing bubble and subsequent crash, and reached an all-time high in the first quarter of 2011 (see bottom chart above). While the national real estate crash has brought average home prices nationally back to 2003 levels, home prices in North Dakota have continued to appreciate every year even through the recession and financial crisis, and are now 42.5% above 2003 levels.
5. North Dakota’s Coincident Economic Activity Index (based on employment, unemployment, wages and salaries, and average hours worked in manufacturing) is above its cyclical peak in early 2008 by almost 12%. (see bottom chart above). Even in Texas, which gets all of the national attention for the state’s economic success and job creation, its economic activity index is still slightly below the early-2008 peak.
Bottom Line: North Dakota’s impressive economic success clearly illustrates some of the benefits of domestic energy production: ongoing job growth, a jobless rate close to 3%, record-setting economic growth, and a bubble-resistant housing market. There’s no reason that the economic success of North Dakota can’t be duplicated elsewhere, if we would only open up more U.S. land and off-shore areas to domestic energy exploration and drilling.
Aug 17 11 4:24 PM
By Isac Simon | More Articles August 17, 2011Major Bakken player Continental Resources (NYSE: CLR ) is getting better at the game. The North Dakota shale oil reserves are playing true to expectations, and companies operating in this region are making a killing.
Numbers don’t lieTotal production for the second quarter rose a healthy 29% to 54,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Bakken production itself grew a fantastic 51% in the corresponding period, accounting for half of the total production. Down south, production from the Woodford shale also increased by an impressive 51%. The fundamentals have shown the kind of growth that Foolish investors should be looking for.
Not surprisingly, earnings have seen a huge boost. Earnings strictly from operations increased 31%, which shows that a boost in operations has translated into increased cash flow.
Solid growth plansContinental’s strategy to balance both oil and natural gas production must be commended. The Bakken’s oil-rich reserves are complemented by the liquids-rich natural gas play in Anadarko.
Long-term growth plans look pretty impressive. Management’s aim to triple production and reserves in five years should definitely catch the attention of Fools. And given the company’s progress in developing its wells, I think the target looks achievable.
Competition, after all, is only bound to heat up in this region. EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG ) , Denbury Resources (NYSE: DNR ) , and small caps like Kodiak (NYSE: KOG ) and Brigham Exploration (Nasdaq: BEXP ) have all increased production substantially.
Continental’s proven reserves have already gone up 15% in the first six months of the year to 421 million barrels of oil equivalent. Stark County looks strong in making a substantial contribution. Early production in the Debrecen 1-3H stands at 1,667 barrels of oil equivalent per day -- Continental’s strongest well to date in the Normandy prospect.
Foolish bottom lineAll in all, I believe this is a stock that has fantastic growth prospects. With a $2 billion capital expenditure program for 2011, the company looks on course to expand operations. Among the larger players in Bakken, Continental looks the most promising.
Sep 7 11 4:24 PM
Each month we update our Bakken Players piece. It's a long graph covering metrics on the pure and not so pure Williston Basin players focused on the Bakken and Three Forks plays. The metrics covered range from your standard forward price to cash flow and TEV to EBITDA multiples to production adjusted acreage valuation reads. It's a long post, and it covers a lot of aspects of the companies, many of whom we own.Today let's shorten that and just look at one metric: Production growth per share. Most of the names in the Bakken Players list have grown absolute production volumes from the Williston in line with a rising rig count in North Dakota and now in Montana. But share offerings along the way have in some cases muted this growth at the per share level which is key for investors as they hold the names for long term growth, not long term dilution. Moreover, with the more mature and diversified names on the list, like Continental Resources (CLR) and Whiting Petroleum (WLL), you expect the production per share figures to be higher (which they are) but also less growthy (which they also are). But look to the little guys like Kodiak (KOG) and Northern Oil and Gas (NOG) and the chart is still firmly of the "up and to the right" variety.
Click to enlarge chartsAs the curves have accelerated, in most cases, share price has not - largely due to a weaker equity market - kept pace as can be seen here:
Click to enlargeZeroing back in on the little guys, note that both NOG and KOG have just about doubled their production per share over the last year, and KOG has done this in the face of not one but two equity offerings. And KOG's share price has easily outpaced the moves by the rest of the group over the last year to reflect this growth even though it is come from a very small base. Now don't get me wrong. I like KOG and have owned it for several years now with the thought that it would rally as it first explored in and then began to develop its core acreage in the FBIR and again now as it steps out into more areas west of the Nesson. So its doubling was expected and the 300% (or thereabouts) year-over-year absolute production growth this year is again driving strong stock performance. And besides, they've gotten their need for a secondary out of the way probably until at least late 2012 so that's a weight they no longer have on the stock. So I'm not at all crying about the rise in the shares.But I am taking issue with the relative lack of movement, in light of its own per share growth, that we have seen with NOG. While 34% is strong in an one year period for a small-cap growth name, the company's production is "hockey sticking" now. The shares are only suppressed at current levels due to a concerted short effort that has not seen the implied negatives for the story come out in the real world but has managed - with a little luck given the bad weather and then a dip in crude prices - to leave the stock in a sort of limbo. Despite the distractions of the shorts, the company continues to hit on all cylinders which in NOG's non operated case means growing production, keeping per unit costs down, and adding to acreage which will get drilled by experienced operators in a hurry and not linger as the goat pasture you see at some other firms. Expect them to staff up soon in advance of further growth and expect a mid year reserve report, the first, to leave the shorts wondering if they've overstayed their welcome. Anyway, a lot more on the site so please feel free to check here for further details on all of these names including where we plot these curves going in the future.Disclosure: I am long WLL, BEXP, KOG, OAS, NOG.
Sep 15 11 4:57 PM
As you all know sometimes I like to be exceedingly simple. My “what price when” graphs usually accomplish that pretty well, as a reminder of where stocks were at a point in time versus where they are now. Sometimes I run these versus oil or natural gas prices so I can try to spot outliers.In today’s piece I’ve done a few things differently. This version takes a look at the Total Enterprise Value of the stocks in question (today it's the Bakken players) and compares it to their production going back in time. The TEV’s employ quarter end prices and the production is from the same quarter and while the stock wouldn’t have known about the most recent quarter's production until three or four weeks later when the quarter was announced, this is close enough for my purposes.TEV allows me to capture stock sales and debt issuance both of which are missed by simply using the stock price alone. TEV gives us the whole valuation of the company and while the normal metric of TEV/Production is fine as a multiple, over time I find that harder to look at than the graphs shown below.The graphs below pair TEV in dollars measured on the left axis vs. daily production on the right axis ... they are color coordinated for ease of viewing. The data up to 2Q11 is historical while 3Q and 4Q (if present) are my estimates or those of the companies or a mix … I try to err on the side of realism/conservatism in my modeling.When looking at the charts below remember that oil was lower in 3Q10 (a year ago) than it is now. Prices at the end of September 2010 hovering just over $80 per barrel WTI vs. just under $90 today. And yes, in the case of the Bakken players, WTI is still a relevant benchmark but it should be noted that the historic $10 to $14 differential to WTI has contracted this year closer to a range of $2 to $4. Just more fuel for my thinking that the group is overly cheap and that valuation metrics will contract severely relative to history or the stocks will need to mount a resurgence in the not too distant future. By this I mean that if the stocks stand still, they get cheaper and cheaper and cheaper.Click to enlarge
Disclosure: I am long BEXP, OAS, KOG, NOG, WLL.
Sep 21 11 8:59 PM
Ignacia Moreno says the industry group invited her to talk.
She says she’ll be stressing the need for strong enforcement of environmental laws to protect the public health and safety.
Moreno says most energy companies follow the law, and those that cut corners put people at risk and gain an unfair economic advantage.
The Petroleum Council is holding its annual meeting in Medora. It finishes up Thursday.
The Justice Department is currently prosecuting seven oil companies in federal court in North Dakota for harming migratory birds.
Prosecutors say the companies didn’t keep some oil waste pits covered, and birds landed in them.
Sep 26 11 7:29 PM
Thirty percent of the natural gas extracted in North Dakota is flared off, like this gas near Ray. More Photos »By CLIFFORD KRAUSSPublished: September 26, 2011NEW TOWN, N.D. — Across western North Dakota, hundreds of fires rise above fields of wheat and sunflowers and bales of hay. At night, they illuminate the prairie skies like giant fireflies.They are not wildfires caused by lightning strikes or other acts of nature, but the deliberate burning of natural gas by oil companies rushing to extract oil from the Bakken shale field and take advantage of the high price of crude. The gas bubbles up alongside the far more valuable oil, and with less economic incentive to capture it, the drillers treat the gas as waste and simply burn it.
Every day, more than 100 million cubic feet of natural gas is flared this way — enough energy to heat half a million homes for a day.
The flared gas also spews at least two million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, as much as 384,000 cars or a medium-size coal-fired power plant would emit, alarming some environmentalists.
All told, 30 percent of the natural gas produced in North Dakota is burned as waste. No other major domestic oil field currently flares close to that much, though the practice is still common in countries like Russia, Nigeria and Iran.
With few government regulations that limit the flaring, more burning is also taking place in the Eagle Ford shale field in Texas, and some environmentalists and industry executives say that it could happen in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Ohio, too, as drilling expands in new fields there unlocked by techniques like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.
“North Dakota is not as bad as Kazakhstan, but this is not what you would expect a civilized, efficient society to do: to flare off a perfectly good product just because it’s expensive to bring to market,” said Michael E. Webber, associate director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas at Austin.
The oil companies say economic reality is driving the flaring in the Bakken, the biggest oil field discovered in the United States in four decades. They argue that they cannot afford to pay for pipelines and processing plants to capture and sell the gas until they actually drill oil wells and calculate how much gas will bubble out of the oil. And reinjection of the carbon dioxide, commonly done in conventional oil fields, is more difficult and expensive in less permeable shale fields.
“This field covers 15,000 square miles, so it takes time to go and test what’s there and then build a gathering system and plant,” said Harold G. Hamm, chief executive of Continental Resources, one of the biggest oil producers in the Bakken.
The widespread flaring is a step backward for a domestic energy industry. Most oil and gas fields in the United States have well-developed facilities to gather and process gas.
But the recent rise of shale drilling has changed the economic calculus. Natural gas prices have plunged since 2008 as vast shale fields laden with gas are tapped through hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Meanwhile, those same techniques have opened up other shale fields rich with oil.
With oil prices high amid strong global demand and leases as short as five years for land in the Bakken, drillers have found it more profitable to just grab the oil and burn the gas. Building out the infrastructure to handle gas would substantially raise costs and slow development, and efforts so far to use the gas for electrical generation have had limited success because it contains components that burn too hot.
“I’ll tell you why people flare: It’s cheap,” said Troy Anderson, lead operator of a North Dakota gas-processing plant owned by Whiting Petroleum. “Pipelines are expensive: You have to maintain them. You need permits to build them. They are a pain.”
Although capturing the gas is the best option, scientists say that flaring is better for the environment than venting the gas into the atmosphere. Pure natural gas is mostly methane, which has far greater heat-trapping qualities than carbon dioxide.
Regulations on flaring are loose in North Dakota, as they are in most states, and there are no current federal regulations on flaring at oil and gas wells. That is largely because flaring has not been a significant concern since the 1970s, when the federal government insisted that oil companies re-inject gas into Alaska’s North Slope rather than flare it.
So far, North Dakota health officials say that flaring has not produced any serious air pollution problems. But flaring could eventually become another environmental headache for an industry already under attack over concerns that hydraulic fracturing, also know as fracking, could jeopardize water quality.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has recently proposed new air emissions standards for fracked wells, and it has also begun to ask oil companies to compile data on greenhouse gas emissions from drilling and other operations.
“One day a regulator is going to say, ‘I’m not going to give you one more permit until you tell me what you are going to do with the gas,’ ” said Charif Souki, chief executive of Cheniere Energy, who hopes to eventually export the excess gas in liquefied form.
Environmentalists are also beginning to express alarm. “It’s time for the regulators to take a hard look at the impacts of flaring and make sure that available solutions to the flaring problem are required before there is any further widespread expansion of the practice,” said Amy Mall, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Some of the companies working in North Dakota, including Whiting, are investing $3 billion over the next three years in pipelines and several large processing plants to deliver gas to Midwest markets rather than burn it.
Whiting, a Colorado company that was one of the early explorers in the Bakken, sees particular value in the gas found here because it contains large amounts of propane and butane that it can extract and sell at a profit in addition to the gas itself.
The company is rapidly expanding oil drilling while building and expanding two plants to process its own gas as well as gas produced by others. Whiting was flaring 80 percent of the gas in its first major Bakken field in 2007, but says it has now reduced its flaring to 20 percent across all fields, which will fall further when its second gas plant comes online.
“Our goal is to have zero emissions,” said James T. Brown, Whiting’s president and chief operating officer. “It’s a waste to be wasting all of this energy.”
While the projects by Whiting and others could reduce flaring over the next two years, some executives acknowledge that it will be a continuing problem as the industry increases the number of wells in the area from 5,000 to a projected 48,000 over the next 20 years.
Wayde Schafer, the Sierra Club’s North Dakota conservation organizer, said that the industry needed to slow down development if it could not protect the air. “You can do it fast or you can do it right,” he said.
Sep 27 11 6:38 AM
The area is called Lost Horse Hill, but there is nary a lost horse, or much of a hill, in sight. There is, however, a skinny metal rig where a drilling crew is scrambling to connect an extension to the well-bore pipe on this oil-rich patch of southeastern Saskatchewan.
The team from Big Sky Drilling is running more than a month behind schedule because of this year’s heavy rains. By the time they’re through, they’ll have drilled more than a kilometre deep, before tunnelling horizontally for at least another kilometre, blasting away rock with a high-pressure onslaught of water and chemicals.
The Bakken formation, located in the 600,000-square-kilometre Williston Basin, cuts across three U.S. states and two Canadian provinces and contains hundreds of billions of barrels of oil. If even if a tiny percentage is recovered, it means huge injections of jobs, capital and consumer spending into parts of the Prairies that were largely bypassed in previous energy booms.
PetroBakken has emerged as one of the powerhouses in the Saskatchewan-Manitoba play – even though this summer’s high water shut in as many as 6,000 barrels of its daily production.
“The Bakken is still our flagship – it’s the gift that keeps on giving,” says Rene LaPrade, senior vice-president of operations.
Full Story: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/oil-boom-lets-saskatchewan-plot-its-own-course/article2180935/
Sep 28 11 1:10 AM
The joint owners of the Alliance Pipeline are planning a new line to move liquids-rich natural gas in North Dakota to a processing plant in Illinois.
Enbridge Inc. (ENB-T) and Veresen Inc. (VSN-T) said Tuesday they will build a 124-kilometre pipeline from the Hess Tioga field processing plant in the Williston Basin to the Alliance mainline at Sherwood, N.D.Full Story: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-news/enbridge-veresen-to-build-bakken-natural-gas-pipeline/article2181714/
Sep 28 11 4:02 PM
DENVER (AP) -- Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. said Wednesday that it will buy producing properties and undeveloped leaseholds in North Dakota for about $235 million in cash, expanding its holdings in the energy-rich Williston Basin.
Kodiak, an independent exploration and development company based in Denver, said the seller was a private oil and gas company.
Buying the 13,5000 net mineral acres increases Kodiak's Williston Basin holdings to 110,000 net acres. It expects to produce an estimated 3,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from the newly acquired property.
The Williston Basin is home to the Bakken formation, which the U.S. Geological Survey has said is the largest continuous oil accumulation it ever assessed.
The company will take over 15 drilling units, and the seller's contract for a drilling rig, assuming the rig owner agrees. The addition of the rig is not expected to materially affect the company's capital spending for the year, which is still projected to be $230 million, Kodiak said.
Kodiak said it expects to fund the deal, which is subject to post-closing adjustments, with available cash and borrowings under credit facilities.
The deal is expected to close in late October, subject to customary due diligence and closing conditions, the company said.
Sep 30 11 9:38 PM
Harold Hamm, the Oklahoma-based founder and CEO of Continental Resources, the 14th-largest oil company in America, is a man who thinks big. He came to Washington last month to spread a needed message of economic optimism: With the right set of national energy policies, the United States could be "completely energy independent by the end of the decade. We can be the Saudi Arabia of oil and natural gas in the 21st century.""President Obama is riding the wrong horse on energy," he adds. We can't come anywhere near the scale of energy production to achieve energy independence by pouring tax dollars into "green energy" sources like wind and solar, he argues. It has to come from oil and gas.You'd expect an oilman to make the "drill, baby, drill" pitch. But since 2005 America truly has been in the midst of a revolution in oil and natural gas, which is the nation's fastest-growing manufacturing sector. No one is more responsible for that resurgence than Mr. Hamm. He was the original discoverer of the gigantic and prolific Bakken oil fields of Montana and North Dakota that have already helped move the U.S. into third place among world oil producers.
How much oil does Bakken have? The official estimate of the U.S. Geological Survey a few years ago was between four and five billion barrels. Mr. Hamm disagrees: "No way. We estimate that the entire field, fully developed, in Bakken is 24 billion barrels."If he's right, that'll double America's proven oil reserves. "Bakken is almost twice as big as the oil reserve in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska," he continues. According to Department of Energy data, North Dakota is on pace to surpass California in oil production in the next few years. Mr. Hamm explains over lunch in Washington, D.C., that the more his company drills, the more oil it finds. Continental Resources has seen its "proved reserves" of oil and natural gas (mostly in North Dakota) skyrocket to 421 million barrels this summer from 118 million barrels in 2006.
"We expect our reserves and production to triple over the next five years." And for those who think this oil find is only making Mr. Hamm rich, he notes that today in America "there are 10 million royalty owners across the country" who receive payments for the oil drilled on their land. "The wealth is being widely shared."
One reason for the renaissance has been OPEC's erosion of market power. "For nearly 50 years in this country nobody looked for oil here and drilling was in steady decline. Every time the domestic industry picked itself up, the Saudis would open the taps and drown us with cheap oil," he recalls. "They had unlimited production capacity, and company after company would go bust."
Today OPEC's market share is falling and no longer dictates the world price. This is huge, Mr. Hamm says. "Finally we have an opportunity to go out and explore for oil and drill without fear of price collapse." When OPEC was at its peak in the 1990s, the U.S. imported about two-thirds of its oil. Now we import less than half of it, and about 40% of what we do import comes from Mexico and Canada. That's why Mr. Hamm thinks North America can achieve oil independence.
The other reason for America's abundant supply of oil and natural gas has been the development of new drilling techniques. "Horizontal drilling" allows rigs to reach two miles into the ground and then spread horizontally by thousands of feet. Mr. Hamm was one of the pioneers of this method in the 1990s, and it has done for the oil industry what hydraulic fracturing has done for natural gas drilling in places like the Marcellus Shale in the Northeast. Both innovations have unlocked decades worth of new sources of domestic fossil fuels that previously couldn't be extracted at affordable cost.Mr. Hamm's rags to riches success is the quintessential "only in America" story. He was the last of 13 kids, growing up in rural Oklahoma "the son of sharecroppers who never owned land." He didn't have money to go to college, so as a teenager he went to work in the oil fields and developed a passion. "I always wanted to find oil. It was always an irresistible calling."He became a wildcat driller and his success rate became legendary in the industry. "People started to say I have ESP," he remarks. "I was fortunate, I guess. Next year it will be 45 years in the business."Mr. Hamm ranks 33rd on the Forbes wealth list for America, but given the massive amount of oil that he owns, much still in the ground, and the dizzying growth of Continental's output and profits (up 34% last year alone), his wealth could rise above $20 billion and he could soon be rubbing elbows with the likes of Warren Buffett.His only beef these days is with Washington. Mr. Hamm was invited to the White House for a "giving summit" with wealthy Americans who have pledged to donate at least half their wealth to charity. (He's given tens of millions of dollars already to schools like Oklahoma State and for diabetes research.) "Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, they were all there," he recalls.When it was Mr. Hamm's turn to talk briefly with President Obama, "I told him of the revolution in the oil and gas industry and how we have the capacity to produce enough oil to enable America to replace OPEC. I wanted to make sure he knew about this."The president's reaction? "He turned to me and said, 'Oil and gas will be important for the next few years. But we need to go on to green and alternative energy. [Energy] Secretary [Steven] Chu has assured me that within five years, we can have a battery developed that will make a car with the equivalent of 130 miles per gallon.'" Mr. Hamm holds his head in his hands and says, "Even if you believed that, why would you want to stop oil and gas development? It was pretty disappointing."Washington keeps "sticking a regulatory boot at our necks and then turns around and asks: 'Why aren't you creating more jobs,'" he says. He roils at the Interior Department delays of months and sometimes years to get permits for drilling. "These delays kill projects," he says. Even the Securities and Exchange Commission is now tightening the screws on the oil industry, requiring companies like Continental to report their production and federal royalties on thousands of individual leases under the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting rules. "I could go to jail because a local operator misreported the production in the field," he says.The White House proposal to raise $40 billion of taxes on oil and gas—by excluding those industries from credits that go to all domestic manufacturers—is also a major hindrance to exploration and drilling. "That just stops the drilling," Mr. Hamm believes. "I've seen these things come about before, like [Jimmy] Carter's windfall profits tax." He says America's rig count on active wells went from 4,500 to less than 55 in a matter of months. "That was a dumb idea. Thank God, Reagan got rid of that."A few months ago the Obama Justice Department brought charges against Continental and six other oil companies in North Dakota for causing the death of 28 migratory birds, in violation of the Migratory Bird Act. Continental's crime was killing one bird "the size of a sparrow" in its oil pits. The charges carry criminal penalties of up to six months in jail. "It's not even a rare bird. There're jillions of them," he explains. He says that "people in North Dakota are really outraged by these legal actions," which he views as "completely discriminatory" because the feds have rarely if ever prosecuted the Obama administration's beloved wind industry, which kills hundreds of thousands of birds each year.Continental pleaded not guilty to the charges last week in federal court. For Mr. Hamm the whole incident is tantamount to harassment. "This shouldn't happen in America," he says. To him the case is further proof that Washington "is out to get us."Mr. Hamm believes that if Mr. Obama truly wants more job creation, he should study North Dakota, the state with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 3.5%. He swears that number is overstated: "We can't find anyunemployed people up there. The state has 18,000 unfilled jobs," Mr. Hamm insists. "And these are jobs that pay $60,000 to $80,000 a year." The economy is expanding so fast that North Dakota has a housing shortage. Thanks to the oil boom—Continental pays more than $50 million in state taxes a year—the state has a budget surplus and is considering ending income and property taxes.It's hard to disagree with Mr. Hamm's assessment that Barack Obama has the energy story in America wrong. The government floods green energy—a niche market that supplies 2.5% of our energy needs—with billions of dollars of subsidies a year. "Wind isn't commercially feasible with natural gas prices below $6" per thousand cubic feet, notes Mr. Hamm. Right now its price is below $4. This may explain the administration's hostility to the fossil-fuel renaissance.Mr. Hamm calculates that if Washington would allow more drilling permits for oil and natural gas on federal lands and federal waters, "I truly believe the federal government could over time raise $18 trillion in royalties." That's more than the U.S. national debt, I say. He smiles.This estimate sounds implausibly high, but Mr. Hamm has a lifelong habit of proving skeptics wrong. And even if he's wrong by half, it's a stunning number to think about. So this America-first energy story isn't just about jobs and economic revival. It's also about repairing America's battered balance sheet. Someone should get this man in front of the congressional deficit-reduction supercommittee.Mr. Moore is a member of the Journal's editorial board.
Oct 4 11 6:53 AM
Houston (Platts)--3Oct2011/538 pm EDT/2138 GMTAbout $3 billion worth of infrastructure projects are on the drawing boards in North Dakota's Bakken Shale play to monetize the natural gas produced in association with oil, which otherwise would be lost to flaring, operators and state officials said in interviews.About 134,000 Mcf/d, or almost one third of the gas produced in North Dakota, is flared because of the lack of infrastructure to take the gas away or otherwise monetize it, Bruce Hicks, assistant director of the Oil and Gas Division of the North Dakota Industrial Commission said in an interview Monday.Hicks said it is currently uneconomical to capture the gas produced in association with Bakken Shale oil production, given the dearth of gas-related infrastructure in the 17,000-square-mile region."This is an oil play," he said. "When you're getting less than $4/Mcf for [gas] and you're getting over $80[/barrel] for oil there's a huge push to get the oil out of there."A number of midstream companies have projects under way to capture the gas produced in association with Bakken oil, Hicks said. "Five gas plants are being constructed or are in the early phases of getting started," he said.Under state regulations "gas produced with crude oil from an oil well may be flared during a one-year period from the date of first production from the well."After the first year, "flaring of gas from the well must cease and the well must be capped, connected to a gas gathering line, or equipped with an electrical generator that consumes at least 75% of the gas from the well."Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, said Friday that gas infrastructure projects being proposed or built in the play "to the tune of $3 billion" include new gas processing plants and expansions to existing plants, two NGL pipelines and adding compression on the North Dakota intrastate gas system.Full Story: http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/NaturalGas/6545222
Oct 4 11 5:46 PM
* Enbridge sees rail scramble in Bakken
* Company is building out its pipeline capacity in field
* Tank cars hard to come by, long term leases asked for
By Scott Haggett
CALGARY, Alberta, Oct 4 (Reuters) - The rush to ship oil by rail from North Dakota's prolific Bakken field has created a "Wild West" situation as producers scramble to move their product to market, an executive at pipeline operator Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) said on Tuesday.
Steve Wuori, head of liquids pipelines at Canada's No. 2 pipeline company, said pipeline and rail infrastructure has yet to catch up to booming production in the prolific oil-shale field, creating some dangerous situations.
"It's the Wild West out there at the moment," said Wuori at a company-sponsored investment presentation. "I hear stories of railcars being loaded by men standing on top of the railcar holding the hose, with a 55-gallon drum cut in half for their firewater protection system. It is a real, real Wild West, cowboy type of thing that's going on as people scramble to get crude onto rail in any possible way they can."
Rising from almost nothing a few years ago, production from the Bakken field topped 420,000 barrels a day in July and Wuori estimates that current pipeline capacity in the region can handle less than half that output.
Without access to pipelines, producers are hiring rail tank cars to haul their oil to market. As well, shipping by rail lets producers avoid the lower-value Midwest refining market and ship to regions where higher prices are on offer.
"There's a tremendous enthusiasm for rail," Wuori said. "It is clearly a force to contend with when it comes to movements of crude in areas where pipelines are nonexistent or are constrained. We have Bakken crude showing up in Philadelphia, ... in St. James, Louisiana, and New Orleans."
Enbridge is operating a rail-access program in the Bakken while it works to ramp up its own pipeline capacity in the region. A project to loop its existing North Dakota system will add nearly 150,000 bpd of new capacity while other projects will add an additional 145,000 bpd of additional space. However those projects are still two years away.
While pipeline space is being demanded, producers are looking for access to a limited supply of tank cars. Wuori said terms are getting tight, with owners of the hard-to-come-by tank cars demanding long-term commitments.
"We're finding that the railcar companies are actually demanding long-term contracts," Wuori said. "Who would ever have thought such a thing a few years ago."
Indeed, GATX Corp (GMT.N), one of the largest railcar leasing companies, said it is only leasing out tank cars to creditworthy customers willing to commit to long lease periods. It said only a few hundred of its fleet of 30,000 gallon tank cars are currently being used to transport Bakken oil.
"We're watching that market pretty carefully," said Jennifer Van Aken, a spokeswoman for the company. "We only have a couple of hundred cars in that (Bakken ) service right now, just because it does feel a little bit speculative in nature."
Oct 7 11 4:13 PM
ONEOK Partners, L.P. (NYSE:OKS) is betting on the continued development of the Bakken play in the Williston Basin, as the company invests billions to build needed midstream assets to generate growth through 2014.DescriptionONEOK Partners, L.P. owns and operates midstream assets in the natural gas and natural gas liquids areas. These include gathering, processing and pipeline infrastructure that are essential to exploration and production operators developing oil and gas properties in the United States.
Growth PlanIn the midst of a four year growth plan, ONEOK Partners, L.P expects to be spending between $2.7 billion and $3.3 billion, through 2014, on a number of midstream projects. This growth program comes after the company finished a $2 billion program over the 2006 to 2009 time period. The company is allocating more than 50% of this budget towards building out midstream infrastructure in the Williston Basin, where the majority of operators are working on the Bakken play.
Natural Gas Gathering And ProcessingThey also plan to spend between $910 million and $1.1 billion to build natural gas gathering and processing assets to serve the Bakken. One facility that is nearly completed is the Garden Creek plant in North Dakota, which will process 100 million cubic feet per day of natural gas. The company is also building the Stateline I and Stateline II facilities to process natural gas from wells in the area. These two plants will be in service in 2012 and 2013.
Natural Gas LiquidsONEOK Partners, L.P. has also allocated between $595 million and $730 million to build natural gas liquids infrastructure to handle production from the Bakken play. Most of these funds will be used to build a pipeline to transport natural gas liquids to connect to an existing pipeline system to the south. The company is also expanding the Overland Pass Pipeline in a joint venture with Williams (NYSE:WMB) and expects this pipeline to carry up to 255,000 barrels per day, by 2013.
Other OperatorsAnother company that is investing in the midstream business is QEP Resources (NYSE:QEP), which recently completed the Blacks Fork Processing Complex in Wyoming. The company will use the facility to extract natural gas liquids from the production stream. QEP Resources expects the entire Black Forks complex to be producing as much as $150 million in annualized EBITDA, by 2013.
DCP Midstream recently announced that it would build a pipeline to transport natural gas liquids from the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale play to the Gulf Coast. DCP Midstream is a joint venture owned equally by Spectra Energy (NYSE:SE) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP).
The Bottom LineMany analysts expect production in the Bakken to reach more than one million barrels per day and, if this estimate is accurate, ONEOK Partners can ride this growth and pass it on to shareholders for years to come. (For additional reading, take a look at A Guide To Investing In Oil Markets.)
Oct 17 11 9:37 PM
Not considered a big oil state until recently, North Dakota went from the ninth-biggest producer in 2006 to fourth in 2009, where it currently stands. This boom is thanks to advances in drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques and a rise in oil prices that made it more profitable for companies to tap into the vast reserves trapped in the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations.
North Dakota’s 5,951 wells produced about 444,000 barrels per day in August, the last month for which figures were available. With nearly 200 wells being drilled and plans for 1,500 to 2,000 new wells over the next year, North Dakota should overtake California as the nation’s third-largest producer sometime in the next 12 months, said Lynn Helms, the director of North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources.
“We should pass California by the third quarter of next year,” he said.
North Dakota pumped a record 113 million barrels of oil in 2010, and production estimates show the state should top that by at least 20 percent this year. North Dakota’s oil patch is pumping about 118,000 more barrels of crude daily than a year ago and more than double the production in 2008.
The rise in state’s oil production, which forecasters predict could reach up to 700,000 barrels daily by 2015, comes as oil production is slowing in California and Alaska.
Oct 19 11 4:20 PM
By most standards, Norway's Statoil (NYSE:STO) is a quality name in the world of major energy companies. Unfortunately for its shareholders, the company's stock price has been bedeviled by worries regarding the company's production volumes, reserve growth and dependence on Norway's offshore energy fields. With Monday's announcement that the company is acquiring Bakken specialist Brigham Exploration (Nasdaq:BEXP), Statoil management is making a solid argument that the company is not sleeping on opportunities to leverage its balance sheet into solid reserve growth.The TermsStatoil and Brigham announced that the companies had reached an agreement whereby Statoil will acquire Brigham for $36.50 per share in cash, for a total enterprise deal value of $4.7 billion. That price translates into a roughly 20% premium to Friday's close.
In the case of Brigham, most analysts and investors projected a value per share in the high $30s to low $40s, with the company's rising costs per well representing something of a drag on future value estimates. Accordingly, and in the context of the BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) acquisition of Petrohawk earlier this year, Brigham shareholders are getting a reasonable deal, but certainly aren't fleecing Statoil.
What Statoil Is GettingAs Brigham produced only about a million barrels of oil equivalent in the second quarter, this deal is not going to make a huge near-term impact on Statoil's production. That's fine, though, as this is not why Statoil is doing this deal.
What Brigham has is a very appealing acreage position in the Bakken - one of the hottest areas of oil and gas exploration in the United States today. Bakken controls more than 365,000 net acres in this area, and could have potential reserves upwards of half a billion barrels of oil (versus only about 67 million barrels in proven reserves as of year-end 2010).
A Good Deal for StatoilStatoil is not the most popular stock with analysts today, but I will argue that this is the sort of deal Statoil needs to do. The company needs to improve it reserve position and buying a company like Brigham is arguably a better use of its balance sheet than trying to expand through the drill bit. Moreover, this will eventually help to reduce the company's overly high reliance on Norwegian fields (which are roughly 80% of production today).
However, Statoil will need to prove itself with this deal. Brigham has seen some troubling well cost inflation, and Statoil will need to demonstrate that its skills in technologically complex formations can be relevant here as well. Statoil will also need to prove that it's not spreading itself too thin - prior deals with Chesapeake (NYSE:CHK) in the Marcellus and Talisman (NYSE:TLM) in the Eagle Ford do have it in the hot places, but risk operating inefficiencies over time.
Bakken Calling?Although not all of Brigham's assets are in the Bakken, there is no question that this is first and foremost a Bakken play. Along those lines, investors may see some movement in stocks like Whiting (NYSE:WLL), Credo (Nasdaq:CRED), Kodiak (NYSE:KOG), EOG (NYSE:EOG), and Continental (NYSE:CLR) as sympathetic "me-too" trades. Although energy prices (and smaller energy stocks) have softened a bit, the likelihood is that more deals are on the way.
The Bottom LineI should have learned my lesson with Petrohawk; if you snooze too long, you lose the chance to buy good stocks at good prices. While there is plenty of hope and hype in the energy sector, it makes sense to acquire shares of up-and-comers like Brigham on those occasions when valuations pullback on economic fears. Looking ahead, Statoil still looks like a high-quality undervalued oil and gas major and it holds a lot of appeal for investors who want a somewhat more conservative play on energy. For Brigham shareholders, it's probably time to find another high-quality small energy company worth holding for its organic growth potential. (For additional reading, see Finding Solid Buy-And-Hold Stocks.)
Oct 19 11 9:10 PM
Among the biggest U.S. explorers in the 200,000 square-mile geological formation centered in North Dakota, Oasis and Whiting owned the most Bakken shale acreage versus their takeover value, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. On that basis, both control more land than Brigham Exploration Co., which sold itself to Statoil ASA this week for more than $12,000 per Bakken acre in the most expensive major acquisition in the region, said Pritchard Capital Partners LLC.
Energy companies around the world are pursuing unconventional oil assets such as Bakken shale to boost output as the average cost for finding and developing the fuel for the largest U.S. producers surged more than sixfold in the past decade, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Oasis and Whiting, along with Continental Resources Inc., may now attract interest from Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and India’s Reliance Industries Ltd. as the cost to extract Bakken shale oil falls, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and RBC Capital Markets said.
“Brigham just underpins what an attractive basin this is,” Stephen Berman, a New York-based analyst for Pritchard Capital, said in a telephone interview. “There are other companies that could be gobbled up in the consolidation. If they want to get in the basin in a big way, they’ve got to buy a Brigham or an Oasis.”
The Bakken formation, the largest contiguous oil deposit in the continental U.S., lies within the Williston Basin, an ancient sedimentary deposit that stretches from South Dakota into Canada’s province of Saskatchewan.
The formation may contain as much as 4.3 billion barrels of technically recovered oil under western North Dakota and eastern Montana, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated in April 2008. That’s enough to meet all U.S. crude oil needs for more than 220 days, based on an estimate by the Central Intelligence Agency.
So-called tight oil plays such as the Bakken have only been accessed in the past decade by drilling horizontally through oil-bearing rock and then fracturing the formation by injecting water mixed with sand and chemicals to keep the cracks open and petroleum flowing, a process known as “fracking.”
Most oil production so far has been in western North Dakota, where companies have tapped the so-called middle Bakken, a deposit trapped between two layers of shale, and Three Forks, rock underneath the lower shale layer.
“Given the size and potential of what this field could be, that’s attractive,” Christian O’Neill, an oil analyst for Bloomberg Industries in Skillman, New Jersey, said in a telephone interview. “You’re just entering in a development stage. It has the potential to be a prolific field over time.”
Statoil, Norway’s biggest oil company, gained about 375,000 net acres in the Williston Basin, where the Bakken and Three Forks are located, after saying this week it will purchase Austin, Texas-based Brigham for about $4.5 billion including net debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Based on the number of acres acquired, Statoil’s deal for Brigham would be the costliest major Bakken deal on record and at least 50 percent more than what Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Hess Corp. paid for Bakken acreage in the past year, according to RBC Capital.
Oil companies are expanding into unconventional drilling areas as the cost to locate, extract and produce the fuel skyrockets. Over the past 10 years, the finding and development costs at Exxon, the biggest U.S. producer, has jumped more than 10-fold to $14.21 a barrel, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Among companies drilling for Bakken shale oil, Oasis and Whiting now offer the greatest value per acre, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Houston-based Oasis controls 303,000 net acres in the Bakken and has an enterprise value, or the sum of its equity and net debt, of about $2.87 billion.
That equals 106 acres for each $1 million in enterprise value, the data show. Whiting of Denver had about 96 acres per $1 million. Both had almost three times more acreage implied by the median ratio for oil companies operating in the region.
Using Statoil’s deal offer of $12,082 per acre for Brigham, shares of Oasis and Whiting could now be worth at least 20 percent more in an acquisition, the data show.
Oasis is a likely takeover candidate because it has properties close to Brigham’s fields and is probably open to selling itself, Pritchard Capital’s Berman said.
Whiting, which has much of its 579,000 net acres in the southern part of the basin, is the most leveraged to the Bakken of any oil producer with almost five acres per thousand shares, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Exxon’s 450,000 net acres amounts to less than 0.1 acre per thousand shares.
“You’ve done most of the land grab at this time, and so now to get a position in the Bakken for the most part you’re going to have to buy companies because it’s hard to buy large attractive acreage anymore,” Scott Hanold, a Minneapolis-based analyst for RBC Capital, said in a telephone interview. If the larger oil companies “want to get some of the better positions they’ve got to act sooner than later,” he said.
Richard Robuck, director of investor relations at Oasis, and Whiting’s John B. Kelso didn’t immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.
Oasis shares slipped 1 percent to $30.98 at 10:11 a.m. in New York. Whiting climbed 3 percent to $43.57 for the biggest gain among 72 companies in the Russell 1000 Energy Index.
Falling costs to find and extract oil from the Bakken is luring producers such as Exxon and ConocoPhillips, according to Jason Wangler, a Houston-based analyst for SunTrust Robinson.
Costs at Enid, Oklahoma-based Continental Resources, the most leveraged explorer to the Bakken after Whiting, have plummeted about 60 percent to $9.63 a barrel of oil equivalent since 2008, data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s $4.58 less per barrel than Exxon’s expense.
“We get approached all the time” by potential buyers, Kristin Miskovsky, a spokeswoman for Continental Resources, said in a telephone interview. “Our policy is not to comment on speculation.”
Shares of Continental Resources rose 0.3 percent to $59.
While RBC Capital’s Hanold said Exxon may want to increase its position in the Bakken through acquisitions, Mumbai-based Reliance, India’s biggest company by market value, and The Hague-based Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, may be among other buyers, according to SunTrust Robinson’s Wangler.
Jeffrey Neu, a spokesman for Exxon, said the company doesn’t comment on industry rumors or speculation. Kelly op de Weegh, a spokeswoman for Shell, declined to comment. Manoj Warrier, a spokesman for Reliance, didn’t respond to a telephone call or e-mail outside normal business hours.
Bakken shale oil companies may also attract interest from Chinese energy companies, SunTrust Robinson’s Wangler said. Asian companies may spend $150 billion on takeovers in the next five years to secure energy resources for their faster-growing economies, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.
Although the Bakken formation contains so-called light sweet crude oil that commands higher prices, one challenge for companies looking to shore up acreage in the region is a lack of pipelines to transport the oil to areas with higher demand, according to Bloomberg Industries’ O’Neill. Fracking may also cause serious environmental damage unless companies commit to the best engineering practices, a task force commissioned by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu concluded in August.
Still, with oil approaching $90 a barrel and the breakeven price for production from Brigham’s Bakken acreage at just $55 a barrel, the Statoil deal may spur more acquisitions of shale oil assets in the area, SunTrust Robinson’s Wangler said.
“We may look back on this transaction as the start of a major consolidation,” he said. “It would be very tough to assemble a package of acreage without buying somebody out.”
Oct 20 11 8:06 AM
Nov 14 11 4:18 PM
The third quarter had some very good results by producers active in the Williston Basin. The main story is focused around Twin Valley Field, where Whiting (WLL) had an IP rate of 7000+ Boe/d. Kodiak (KOG) and Newfield (NFX) have also had very good results (or at least much better than expected). Continental (CLR) now believes the second bench of the Three Forks could be commercial throughout the Bakken, and it is possible the third and fourth bench could be viable in spots.
To the west of Kodiak's Koala wells is Oasis (OAS). This acreage seems to have similar upside. Oasis could have the best overall acreage in the Bakken, when its size and the number of acres are taken into consideration. There was a time before Brigham (BEXP) was purchased, that Oasis was thought by some as a company with acreage as good, with its shortcomings blamed on operational issues. Oasis has met earnings expectations for three straight quarters since a bad miss in the December of 2010 quarter. Much of this miss had to do with its starting a well service company. Since then, Oasis has made some significant improvements to infrastructure and costs. Gas production was increased significantly as Oasis hooked up additional wells to its gas infrastructure. Although it has lagged other Bakken players, Oasis has begun to use a 36 stage completion, which has stimulated 20% to 30% better well production. Each stage costs approximately $120000. It is also getting wells connected to its oil gathering system. This decreases costs by $4/barrel when compared with trucking oil from the well site. It is further decreasing costs through its salt water disposal system. This was 28% of costs in the first half of this year. Oasis estimates its middle Bakken wells will cost $8.5 million for an all sand well, and $9.2 to $9.4 million with a proppant/sand mix. It believes well costs will decrease by 10% in 2013. Oasis has tested 100% sand wells versus a mixture of proppant/sand and it believes this does not sacrifice performance. Oasis' well service company will save an estimated $16 to $20 million on average per year.
Oasis has seen improvements with respect to initial production in 2011. Wells completed this year have IP rates of:
This is just a sample of some of its best wells for Oasis, in 2011. Oasis has seen much better production rates with changes it has made to its completions. The main area to watch for Oasis is its Indian Hills acreage. It is possible that Oasis could have finally turned things around. This company has worked hard to get costs down while improving production.
Denbury (DNR) is known for its EOR production, but has left its mark as a Bakken producer. In the third quarter it increased this production 31% quarter over quarter. It averaged a little less than 10000 Boe/d. Denbury stated it saw differentials in the Bakken improve by $4. This company has done a very good job of executing here and has increased its rig count from five to seven. Denbury has seen drill times decrease significantly from 59 days in the first quarter to 33 in the third. More importantly, the changes in drilling and completions have produced significantly better IP rates.
Denbury has 65000 net acres in its Almond area acreage. It drilled an Almond test well in October and found it wasn't commercial. Denbury cancelled the second well in Almond and looks to focus on other areas of its Williston Basin acreage. Since the Almond is not commercial in the third quarter this company had average IP rates of 2197 Boe/d versus the second quarter's rates of 1496 Boe/d. Two of Denbury's focus areas are very important. The first is Cherry, which is in the same area as Whiting's Hidden Beach acreage. The second is Charlson, and is in the same area as Whiting's Tarpon prospect. In both of these prospects, Whiting has shown a much thicker pay zone in both the middle Bakken and upper Three Forks. Charlson in particular has value as Continental has shown all four benches of the Three Forks could be commercial in this area. Kodiak has shown its Koala wells to the west are better than Brigham's with respect to the 60 day IP rate. The Cherry area wells had an average IP rate between 2414 and 2694 Boe/d. Denbury's Bakken wells have been a pleasant surprise. It has had success in McKenzie County like Kodiak, Whiting, Newfield and Continental. It attributed better results to small changes in well design such as the amount of sand or proppant, as Denbury is still using a much lower number of stage range from 16 to 24 with long laterals. Denbury states its Bakken wells have costs of $9.6 million, but recent wells that had problems saw costs increase to $10.4 million. At the end of the quarter, this company expects its average well cost at $9.4 million, but lowers it to $9 million if twin wells are drilled.
Denbury's well results have been very interesting. It has very good completions, and is doing this with a very low amount of stages. Here are some of Denbury's 2011 producing wells:
In summary, it is possible that Denbury has increased its IP rates based on small changes in completion. I believe it has more to do with its acreage. By this I mean Denbury has very good acreage. Ten of its twenty wells were drilled in Cherry. An additional four wells are in Charlson. Even with a lower number of stages, these wells have performed adequately. The biggest problem with the lower number of stages is production rates in the 60- to 90-day range. These wells have good initial (24 hour) production, but decline much faster. Its Thompson wells are just an approximate 8 miles from Whiting's Twin Valley well that produced the highest IP rate in the Bakken/Three Forks. Its Franchuk wells are just to the southwest of the Fort Berthold Reservation. This in my opinion is the reason for Denbury's outperformance. It would be my guess that we will see increased stages like other experienced players in this basin.
Both Oasis and Denbury have made great strides in the third quarter. Oasis has managed to decrease costs and position itself for another North Dakota winter. Both Oasis and Denbury have increased IP rates and seem to be figuring the Bakken shale, but I would expect both players will be able to continue these improvements.
Disclosure: I am long KOG.
Disclaimer: This is an overview of OAS and DNR in the third quarter of 2011. This is not a buy recommendation.
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