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Vol. 18, No. 32 Week of August 11, 2013
Providing coverage of Bakken oil and gas

Bakken Explorers 2013: Movement in Sheridan County

Oil and gas drilling split between Bakken, non-Bakken; TAQA most active operator

Mike Ellerd

For Petroleum News Bakken

Within the Bakken petroleum system, Sheridan County, Montana’s most northeastern county bordering both North Dakota and Saskatchewan, tends to stay off of most people’s radar. However, Sheridan has seen its share of oil and gas activity over the years, and activity in the county, both conventional and unconventional, continues today, drawing little attention.

Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation, MBOGC, records indicate that approximately 1,150 wells have been drilled in Sheridan County dating back to the early 1950s. As of mid-July 2013, there were fewer than 200 producing wells in the county, approximately half of those vertical wells producing from such formations as the Ratcliffe, Red River, Nisku, Winnipegosis, Mission Canyon, Duperow and Nesson Zone.

Most of the non-Bakken production in Sheridan County comes from the Ratcliffe formation while nearly all of the unconventional production is from horizontal wells targeting the Bakken formation, although there has been some recent Three Forks activity in the county.

While annual production in Sheridan County has generally declined since 1986, the first year for which MBOGC has annual production data (see graph), there was an upswing in production in the mid- to late-1990s followed by a less pronounced decline. Although production has fluctuated somewhat since 2000, annual production has been hovering at about 1.5 million barrels. Average production per well through 2012 is some 20 barrels of oil per day. Through April 2013, the most recent month for which MBOGC has finished compiling production data, Sheridan County has produced a total of 529,700 barrels of oil in 2013. Average production in the county has recently been increasing, and through April the county averaged 26.76 bopd per well in 2013.


The most aggressive operator in Sheridan County over the last two years is Calgary-based TAQA North USA Inc., which began North American operations when its parent company, Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., acquired Northrock Resources Ltd. in 2007. TAQA North has since continued expanding its North American operations in Canada as well as Montana and North Dakota.

Over the past 24 months, TAQA North USA has brought 16 wells on production in Sheridan County, all horizontal Bakken wells. Initial production, IP, rates for those 16 wells range from a low of 8 bopd to a high of 347 bopd with an average IP of 79.88 bopd.

TAQA North has 71 producing wells in Sheridan County and in April those wells produced a total of 50,488 barrels, averaging 30.65 bopd per well. While most of the company’s Sheridan wells, 45 of the 71, are non-Bakken, its 26 Bakken wells accounted for 36,399 barrels or 72 percent of the company’s April production, with production averaging 64.31 bopd.

Most of TAQA’s Sheridan County wells are in the Flat Lake field just below the Canadian border in the far northeast region of the county.

Three Forks activity

There are only two wells in the MBOGC database identified as targeting the Three Forks formation in Sheridan County, one operated by Whiting Oil and Gas and the other by Marathon Oil. Whiting’s Gronlie Farms 31-25TFH in the Elm Coulee, Northeast field in the southeast region of the county went on production in August 2012 and through May 2013 had produced 17,008 barrels, averaging 65.67 bopd. That well had an IP of 130 bopd.

Marathon’s Sheridan County Three Forks well, the Dave Clark 21-13H, has also been producing in the Elm Coulee, Northeast field since August 2012, and through April produced a total of 10,843 barrels of oil. The number of producing days is not available for this well in the MBOGC database, but the Dave Clark 21-13H did have an IP of 159 bopd.

Other recent activity

In addition to its Three Forks well, Marathon has drilled and brought on production five Bakken wells in Sheridan County since February 2012, all in the Elm Coulee, Northeast field. The IP rates for those five wells ranged from 53 to 254 bopd with an average IP of 158.2 bopd.

Whiting has one other producing well in Sheridan County in addition to its Three Forks well, the Nyby 1-6 well, a Bakken well in the Katy Lake, North field in east-central Sheridan County. The Nyby 1-6 is a vertical, Red River well, and since production began in January 1986, the well produced a total 395,947 barrels of oil through May 2013 with a daily production average of 42.98 bopd.

Other operators bringing Bakken formation wells on production in Sheridan County in the last two years include Samson Resources, Sinclair Oil and Gas, Southwestern Energy, and Vaalco Energy (USA).

Samson drilled and brought on production two wells in the county in June 2012, both targeting the Bakken formation. Those two wells had IPs of 67 and 149 bopd. These are the only two producing wells that Samson has in Sheridan County, and both are in the Elm Coulee, Northeast field.

Sinclair’s Chisholm 1-3H well went on production in January 2013 with an IP of 160 bopd, and through May 2013 that well produced a total of 8,780 barrels of oil over 81 days of pumping for a daily average of 108.40 bopd. This well is in the Elm Coulee, Northeast field and is the only producing well that Sinclair has in Sheridan County.

Southwestern Energy’s Bedwell 33-52 1-1H well in the Elm Coulee, Northeast field went on production in September 2012 with an IP of 171 bopd and through April 2013 produced 9,352 barrels with a daily average of 52.83 bopd. This is Southwestern Energy’s only producing well in the county.

Vaalco Energy’s Bolke 07-01H wildcat well began producing in February 2013 and had an IP of 22 bopd. Total production data for the Vaalco well are not yet available in the MBOGC database. This is the only producing well that Vaalco has in Sheridan County.

Non-Bakken activity

In addition to the recent Bakken and Three Forks activity in Sheridan County, four wells tapping other formations have gone on production in the last 24 months. Vess Oil Corp. brought its Federal 1-5H horizontal Ratcliffe well on production in September 2012. That Ratcliffe well had an IP of 400 bopd and through April 2013 produced a total of 13,948 barrels with an average of 65.18 bopd. Vess has five producing wells in the county, all in the Dwyer and Rush fields in the east-central and southeast areas of the county, respectively.

Omimex Canada brought its Ostby 3-34 well on production in December 2011. The Ostby is a vertical well targeting the Mission Canyon formation. That well had an IP of 180 barrels, and through May 2013 produced 18,974 barrels of oil with an average of 36.14 bopd. Omimex has four other vertical Mission Canyon wells in Sheridan County, the first of which went on production in November 2005. Together, those four other Omimex wells produced 446,019 barrels of oil over 8,974 days of production through May 2013, for a collective average of 49.70 bopd from the Mission Canyon. All of these Omimex wells are in the Anvil, North field in the southeast region of the county.

Prima Exploration’s Stringer 2-14-1B directional well in Katy Lake field in Sheridan County was originally drilled as a Nesson Zone conventional well in 1986 by Gulf Oil. Through January 2003 that well produced 80,323 barrels over 4,458 days of production for an average of 18.02 bopd. The well was later deepened to the Ratcliffe, but MBOGC records show no production from the Ratcliffe. In 2012 a lateral was drilled into the Red River formation and had an IP of 37 bopd when it went back on production in December 2012. Since then, the well has produced 531 barrels over 25 days of production for an average of 21.24 bopd. The well was pumped for 10 days in May 2013 and produced no oil but did produce 124 barrels of water.

Prima has another Stringer well in Sheridan County, the Stringer 1-14-1B also in the Katy Lake field. That well was also originally drilled by Gulf Oil as a Red River well in 1979 but didn’t go on production until 1986. Between January 1986 and July 2012, the well produced an impressive 1,149,929 barrels of oil from the Red River formation over 8,815 days of pumping for average production of 130.45 bopd. The well was recompleted as a Nesson Zone well in 2012, and since going back on production from the Nesson Zone in August 2012, the well has produced only 170 barrels over 84 days of pumping for an average of 2.02 bopd.

Prima has four other producing wells in Sheridan County, all vertical and located in the Raymond and Divide fields in the central region of the county.

The only other operator to complete a well in Sheridan County in the last 24 months was Northern Oil Production Inc., which completed its Tange 4 well, a directional Winnipegosis formation well in the Outlook field in the northwest region of the county. That well began producing in June 2012, and while the MBOGC database indicates an IP of 0 barrels, the well produced a total of 1,790 barrels through April 2013 with an average production of 7.43 bopd. Northern Oil Production has eight other producing wells in the county.

Other Sheridan activity

Numerous other operators have drilled and completed wells in Sheridan County that continue to produce oil. Other active operators in the county include Petro-Hunt, SM Energy, Continental Resources, Kodiak Oil and Gas, Bluebonnet Energy Corp., Newfield Production, Linn Operating and Earthstone Energy.

While there are producing wells scattered across the entire county, most of the activity in Sheridan County is centered in the Flat Lake field in the far northeast corner. The latest MBOGC records indicate that a total of 22,506,542 barrels of oil have been produced from the Flat Lake field since the field was discovered in 1964.

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