Today's Trends: ND Rigs Approaching Bakken High Water Mark

With 143 rigs operating in the state, North Dakota's rig count is closing in on record levels, unseen since 1981. According to the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division, the prior peak occurred in October of '81 when the average monthly count was 146 rigs.

Exploration plays, known for higher concentrations of oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs), have received an ever greater focus over the last twelve months. The rationale for the majority of these projects is compelled by the fact that oil is trading at approximately 17 times natural gas prices, even though the differential in energy produced favoring oil is at a ratio of 6:1. Additionally, the markets view the natural gas industry as oversupplied.

E&P firms looking to rebalance their project portfolios are placing greater emphasis on the Bakken shale. The Bakken shale, primarily situated in ND, is a region known for its prolific oil reserves. The largest operators in ND are: Continental Resources, Whiting, EOG Resources and Hess. Continental Resources is leading the pack with a rig count of 20, which is nearly triple from where it started the year.

GRAPH: operator

Although drillers are benefitting from the increased rig count, the additions by the largest suppliers are not growing as fast as the overall count. To us, this would suggest that the smaller drilling firms are experiencing more gains from recent activity than the largest players in the region.

GRAPH: operator



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