By far the largest producer from the world’s fastest-growing oil field, Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources Inc. is intently focused on a half-dozen areas scattered throughout North Dakota’s Bakken shale.
Continental and other producers in the area have spent much of the past several years testing sections throughout the field to determine how thick the different rock layers are, how that depth and thickness changes and which sections hold the best oil resources.
Over the past three months, Continental has focused on determining how many horizontal wells can be drilled in each of the various rock layers and how close together those wells should be drilled.
“We want to see how many wells it takes to get the maximum amount of oil out at the best rate,” said Jack Stark, Continental’s senior vice president of exploration. “You don’t want to over drill or under drill. Too much costs more to recover the same amount of oil, and too little leaves recoverable oil in the ground.”
The first big test was on the Hawkinson unit in the southern portion of Continental’s Bakken real estate. The company drilled a total of 14, two-mile long horizontal wells in four rock layers deep below the surface.
After three months of production, 12 of the 14 wells were performing about 50 percent better than the company’s average well in the Bakken. Pumps have been installed on the remaining two wells, which are now producing just below the average for the area.
“The Hawkinson project has been a huge success and the culmination of efforts across the entire company,” Continental President Rick Bott said in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings announcement earlier this month. “This is a landmark event for our company and the industry. ... This first test validates our vision for full-field development of the Bakken and the vast resource potential across our acreage position.”
Parameters for drilling in shale formation
Continental Resources recently completed a test of how many wells are needed to best produce from the Bakken formation in North Dakota. The company drilled a total of 14, two-mile long horizontal wells in four rock layers deep below the surface. In the first test, the wells were drilled in a grid with wells at the same layer drilled 1,320 feet apart. Some of the upcoming tests will use the same spacing, while others will test wells drilled with half the distance between them.