Bakken-Three Forks output encourages Whiting

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Oct. 28
– Reserves estimates in the North Dakota Middle Bakken and Three Forks formations continue to pleasantly surprise Whiting Petroleum Corp., Denver, which said that it also appears that further infill drilling is warranted in Sanish field.

Whiting, which operates 152 wells in Sanish field, said it appears that additional frac stages have contributed to the higher initial production rates for wells completed in 2010.

The company didn’t specific the magnitude of the reserves improvements but said they are based on results of microseismic studies and reservoir pressure monitoring in both formations.

Whiting’s net production from the two formations in Sanish and Parshall fields of Mountrail County, ND, averaged 27,385 b/d of oil equivalent in the quarter ended Sept. 30, up 6% from the previous quarter of 2010 and up 58% from the third quarter of 2009.

Whiting’s net production from Sanish averaged 22,275 boe/d in the quarter ended Sept. 30, up 11% from the prior quarter and up 113% from third quarter 2009. September 2010 Sanish net output averaged 22,935 boe/d, up 5% from June 2010.

Sanish field operations
Whiting has increased by 152 the total number of gross operated wells that it expects to drill in Sanish to 534. About 83 of these additional well locations are planned to be “wing wells,” which are expected to have 7,500-ft laterals and to be drilled mainly in the northeast and southwest portions of the field’s 1,280-acre units.

Whiting has chosen to drill three Three Forks wells per 1,280-acre unit as compared to its previous plan of two Three Forks wells per unit. This decision adds 80 potential gross well locations in Sanish. Including nonoperated wells, Whiting estimates that 323 gross wells remain to be drilled in Sanish as of Oct. 15, 2010.

The company has completed 57 Sanish wells in 2010, including 17 in July 20-Oct. 15. The 17 wells are comprised of 15 Bakken wells, of which 14 were infill wells and one was a cross-unit well, and two Three Forks wells.

Initial production rate for the 51 Bakken wells averaged 2,541 boe/d, a 21% increase on the average initial rate for completions before Jan. 1, 2010. Initial rate for the six Three Forks wells averaged 1,433 boe/d, a 42% increase on the average for the three wells completed before Jan. 1, 2010.

The company has run 15-30 fracs/well in 2010, averaging 20/well. Before 2010, most of its wells in Sanish had 10 stages. The company is also using more proppant and frac fluid in its fracing operations: 46,000-50,000 bbl and 3.6-4.0 million lb.

Whiting plans to continue with its current nine operated drilling rig count in Sanish field through 2012. The company has contracted a full-time dedicated frac crew at Sanish that it estimates is capable of fracture stimulating 100 wells/year.

As of Oct. 15, 2010, 17 operated wells were being completed or awaiting completion and nine operated wells were being drilled in Sanish field. In 2010, Whiting intends to drill 90 operated wells and participate in eight nonoperated wells in the field for a total of 98 wells (52 net wells). Of the 98, 88 are planned Bakken wells and 10 are planned Three Forks wells.

The initial production rate from the recently completed cross-unit well, the Rohde 14-6XH, was 3,293 boe/d. It flowed 3,023 b/d of oil and 1.62 MMcfd of gas on a 48/64-in. choke with 747 psi flowing casing pressure from Middle Bakken on a 24-hr test in August after 22 frac stages with sliding sleeve technology. The well’s first 30-day average was 1,153 boe/d.

Whiting is operator with 61% working interest and 49% net revenue interest. The well is in the center of Sanish field.

Whiting estimated completed well costs for its most recent Sanish wells will come in below $5 million/well. The third quarter 2010 wells averaged 20,000 ft measured depth, including 10,000 ft of lateral, in an average of 19 days, with two wells taking 15 days from spud date to total depth.

The reduction in drilling time and associated costs is primarily the result of the company’s “Drill Wells On Paper” program, which applies the best practices and best logistical planning of all drilling and completion contractors to produce drilling and completion efficiencies. Before DWOP began in June 2009, spud to total depth averaged 39 days. The 19 fewer days on location saves $900,000/well in drilling costs.

Transportation, processing
The 17-mile oil line connecting Sanish field with the Enbridge Inc. pipeline in Stanley, ND, is transporting 25,000-27,000 b/d of oil. The 8-in. line’s capacity is 65,000 b/d. Whiting expects to have all of its gross operated production in the pipeline by the end of 2010.

Current cost savings is $1-2/bbl shipped through the pipeline versus trucking. Enbridge expects to add 30,000 b/d of takeaway capacity to its pipeline in the first quarter of 2011, which will bring the pipeline’s total takeaway capacity to 191,000 b/d. Enbridge anticipates adding an incremental 85,000 b/d in the second quarter of 2013 for a total of 276,000 b/d of takeaway capacity.

Whiting’s Robinson Lake gas plant is processing a gross 33.9 MMcfd of gas. The company recently completed Phase 1 of the gas plant’s expansion, which brought inlet capacity to 45 MMcfd. Whiting expects capacity to be expanded to 60 MMcfd in January 2011 and 90 MMcfd in July 2011.

Whiting owns a 50% interest in the plant. The plant receives 25% of the net proceeds from natural gas and NGL sales in the area. As of Oct. 15, 2010, sales from the plant were 25.3 MMcfd of gas and 4,351 b/d of natural gas liquids, from which Whiting was netting 3.2 MMcfd of gas and 544 b/d of NGL.

Parshall field
Whiting owns 73,242 gross (18,188 net) acres in Parshall field just east of Sanish field.
Net production from Parshall in the quarter ended Sept. 30 averaged 5,110 boe/d, a 25% decrease from the third quarter of 2009. Net Parshall production averaged 4,960 boe/d in September 2010, a 12% decrease from June 2010.

EOG Resources Inc., Parshall field operator, has drilled almost all of its Bakken locations and is pursuing a moderate pace of development of the Three Forks formation with a one-rig program. As of Oct. 15, 2010, Whiting had participated in 129 wells at Parshall, of which 123 are producing, five are awaiting completion, and one is being drilled.

Lewis & Clark prospect
Whiting completed two new producers at its Lewis & Clark prospect in September 2010.
Froehlich 44-9TFH flowed an initial 1,832 b/d of oil and 1.546 MMcfd of gas on a 42/64-in. choke with 824 psi FTP from Three Forks at 10,500 ft TVD after 28 “plug and perf” fracs in a 9,730-ft lateral.

The Froehlich well averaged 1,109 boe/d in its first 30 days. Whiting is operator with 90% WI and 73% NRI.

Kubas 11-13TFH, 5 miles northeast of Froehlich, tested at 1,780 b/d and 1.035 MMcfd from Three Forks on a 46/64-in. choke with 520 psi FCP. The well’s 9,740-ft lateral was fracture stimulated in a total of 29 stages, 21 stages using sliding sleeve technology and eight “plug and perf” stages. Whiting operates the well with 94% WI and 76% NRI.

Both wells are on the southeast part of the Lewis & Clark Prospect in Stark County, ND. The wells are 32 miles southeast of Whiting’s Federal 32-4TFH discovery well, which flowed 1,970 boe/d from Three Forks on Nov. 25, 2009. At the end of September 2010, the discovery well was pumping 259 boe/d, 32 boe/d higher than the well’s production rate at the end of July 2010.

Whiting has four operated rigs at Lewis & Clark, will increase to five by mid-November, and plans to have nine running by mid-2011. In 2010 the company anticipates drilling and completing at least 13 Three Forks wells on the prospect with laterals reaching 10,000 ft.

Whiting plans to complete each well with a 30 frac stages, 22 using sliding sleeves and eight with “plug and perf.” In 2011, Whiting expects to be able to use a new completion assembly that would allow a 30-stage frac stimulation to be performed with all sliding sleeves.

Whitint continues to lease in the prospect area, in Golden Valley, Billings, and Stark counties, and has raised its net acreage position to 232,908 net acres, up from 225,685 net acres at July 31, 2010. Based on the prospect’s 337,052 gross acres and drilling two laterals per 1,280-acre spacing unit, Whiting has up to 500 potential well locations on this acreage that could target Three Forks.

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