Brigham announced that the acceleration of its activities in the Williston Basin remains on schedule after adding its eighth operated rig and plans to be at 10 operated rigs by July. Brigham also announced that it has brought on line to production seven additional wells in North Dakota since its last operational release and to date has completed 68 consecutive long lateral high frac stage wells at an average early 24-hour peak rate of approximately 2,831 barrels of oil equivalent. Finally, Brigham announced that while its operations in the Williston Basin have been impacted by the worst winter in North Dakota in almost 100 years, and more recently by persistent precipitation, it believes that based on its assessment of production data currently available to the company that production for the second quarter 2011 will be within, though at the low end of its previously issued production guidance of 12,000 to 14,000 barrels of equivalent per day. Importantly, despite the difficult weather conditions, this would represent a sequential increase in production volumes relative to the first quarter 2011.
Williston Basin Operated Drilling and Completion Update
Brigham's accelerated development of its acreage in North Dakota and Montana is proceeding with five operated rigs drilling in Rough Rider, two operated rigs drilling in Ross and one operated rig drilling in Montana. Brigham plans to add its ninth operated rig this month and its tenth operated rig in July. Furthermore, it plans to add two walking rigs in the first quarter of 2012.
In North Dakota, Brigham is currently drilling a Three Forks well in its Ross project area in Mountrail County and has Three Forks wells waiting on completion in its Rough Rider project area in Williams County and in Ross. Two additional Three Forks wells are anticipated to spud in Rough Rider by mid-summer, both of which are in McKenzie County.
In Montana, Brigham recently completed drilling operations on the Charley 10-15 #1H, which is located in Roosevelt County, and will drill several additional wells in Richland County, Montana. Brigham also recently re-completed the Richland County Voss 21-11H, which was a well that was previously fracture stimulated and brought on line to production in 2007 by another operator. Since that time, the well has produced approximately 59,000 barrels of oil equivalent. Brigham pulled the old liner and re-completed the Voss with 28 frac stages at an early 24-hour peak rate of approximately 1,143 barrels of oil equivalent. Post frac, the Voss produced in one hour what it was previously producing over an entire 24 hour period.
Brigham currently has four wells flowing back, two wells fracing, and 14 wells waiting on completion. Since March 31, 2011, the company has brought on line to production 14 gross wells and anticipates bringing on line an additional 6 to 8 gross wells during the remainder of the quarter. To date, Brigham has completed 68 consecutive long lateral high frac stage wells in North Dakota at an average early 24-hour peak rate of approximately 2,831 barrels of oil equivalent.
Brigham is currently running two fully dedicated frac crews focused on completing Brigham operated horizontal wells in the basin. Brigham estimates that it will be capable of fracture stimulating and bringing on line to production a minimum of eight wells per month, with the goal of achieving 10 fracs per month due to the efficiencies gained by zipper fracs.
Second Quarter and Full Year Production Guidance
Operations in the Williston Basin have been impacted by the worst winter in 100 years and more recently by precipitation that resulted in the closure of roads in Williams County for several days. Despite these tough operating conditions, Brigham believes that second quarter 2011 production will still fall within the previously issued production guidance, with the likely outcome being at the low end of the 12,000 to 14,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day range. Encouragingly, this would represent a sequential increase versus the 11,314 barrels of oil equivalent per day that was produced in the first quarter 2011. This assessment was made based on the best data available to Brigham at this time. As a result of the updated assessment, Brigham reiterates its full year production forecast of 14,000 to 16,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day for 2011.
Brigham's ability to generate production volumes at the low end of its guidance range despite the severe weather conditions is a result of its concentrated acreage position in the core of the play, which has enabled it to accomplish critical operational enhancements and implement the development of support infrastructure. First, Brigham is in the process of increasing the number of wells completed with zipper fracs. Brigham believes that completing wells with zipper fracs enhances the overall operational efficiency of dedicated frac crews and also minimizes the impact of adverse weather due to there being fewer associated equipment moves that might otherwise be delayed due to weather and therefore delay completions. Second, Brigham's support infrastructure provided it with a distinct advantage during the most recent road closures. Brigham was able to complete the fracture stimulation of the DeLorme 12-1 #1H, which is located in Williams County, despite the road closures due to the well being tied into its fresh water pipeline. The utilization of Brigham's fresh water pipeline allowed it to continue the fracture stimulation due to the elimination on the dependence of the approximate 400 truckloads of fresh water that are typically required for a frac when not hooked up to a pipeline. To date, Brigham has completed nine fracs utilizing its fresh water pipeline system in Williams County.
Bud Brigham, the Chairman, President and CEO, commented, "Despite the harsh weather conditions, it appears that our second quarter production volumes will fall within our previous guidance, though at the low end of the range, a positive outcome under the circumstances. Importantly, this would represent a sequential increase from our first quarter production. I believe the credit goes to our operations group, as they continue to positively differentiate us relative to our peers. Their long range planning in terms of both identifying the significant benefits of zipper fracs and implementing our support infrastructure system have driven our relative outperformance in the second quarter. This is an exciting foreshadowing of further differentiation as we implement more of these operational efficiencies and also complete the majority of our support infrastructure installations. We are particularly excited about the longer term benefits of our support infrastructure system in the upcoming winter. Our $120 million investment in over 400 miles of gathering systems and disposal wells will enable us to remove all of the fluids produced by the majority of our wells and take all the fluids out to the majority of our wells required for our fracs without the need for trucks, which are costly and vulnerable to the weather conditions. I expect that our winter 2011-2012 operations will be substantially more efficient than the winter 2010-2011, further insulating us from the challenges presented by the Williston Basin's winter weather conditions. Our stockholders will see a very strong economic benefit from our support infrastructure beginning in the fourth quarter 2011 as the entire system starts to come on line."
Bud Brigham concluded, "We continue to generate superior wells results. We were able to announce the completion of seven incremental wells since our mid-May operational press release and to date we have completed 68 wells at an average early 24-hour peak rate of approximately 2,831 barrels of oil equivalent. In the summer, we look forward to announcing a number of potential net asset value creating wells with additional completions in the Three Forks in Rough Rider and additional Bakken wells in Eastern Montana. Finally, we are in advanced discussions with service providers to potentially add a partial incremental frac crew to our existing two fully dedicated crews."
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