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Vol. 18, No. 31 Week of August 04, 2013
Providing coverage of Bakken oil and gas

Completion success

Whiting: cemented liners, more sand, plug and perf behind oil surge

Ray Tyson

Petroleum News Bakken

A modified completion design used on wells at Whiting Petroleum’s Missouri Breaks prospect helped to more than double the company’s year-over-year production in the western Williston Basin.

Moreover, the completion technique employed at Missouri Breaks utilizing cemented liners and higher sand volumes during stimulation fracturing likely can be adapted to other Whiting prospects in Williston Basin, the company indicated.

“The other areas that we think it will have application … include Lewis & Clark, where we’ve got a very large drilling inventory, as well as Hidden Bench and our Cassandra project — those would be the primary ones,” Mark Williams, Whiting’s senior vice president of exploration and development, said in a July 25 conference call with analysts to discuss second quarter 2013 financial and operational results.

Production up 15.7% year-over-year

Whiting’s total production for the second quarter of 2013 averaged 93,380 barrels of oil equivalent per day, representing a 4.8 percent increase over the previous quarter and a 15.7 percent increase compared to the second quarter 2012 average of 80,700 boe per day. Sixty-three percent of Whiting’s production comes from the Williston Basin.

The new completion design at Missouri Breaks contributed to a 44 percent increase in Whiting’s 171,408-acre, multi-prospect western Williston region, averaging 9,384 boe per day in the second quarter of 2013, versus 6,520 boe per day in the first quarter of 2013.

But compared to the second quarter of 2012, western Williston production during this year’s second quarter rocketed an astounding 231 percent, the company reported.

“The new frack design appears to significantly improve production rates,” the company said in a statement, noting that its recently completed Weber 24-30-1H well flowed at 1,164 boe per day using the new completion technique, which in addition to cement liners and greater sand volumes, uses the “plug and perf” approach.

Weber 24-30-1H offset the Mullin 21-24-1H well, which, in contrast, tested at 481 boe per day and was completed using the prior completion design, an uncemented liner with sliding sleeve technology.

Southern Williston output up 30%

Whiting’s second quarter 2013 production from southern Williston Basin, which includes the Lewis & Clark and Pronghorn prospects, averaged 13,325 boe per day, relatively flat with first-quarter 2013 output but up 30 percent year-over-year. As the second quarter ended, Whiting had 13 wells being completed or waiting on completion at Pronghorn.

Net production from Whiting’s flagship Sanish field, also in the Williston Basin, averaged 36,315 boe per day in the second quarter 2013, compared to 35,805 boe per day in the first quarter of 2013. The increase was partly attributed to a higher density-drilling program at the nearby Parshall field.

“We have initiated our higher density pilot project in the Sanish field,” the company said. “If successful, this could add 191 gross well locations.”

Outside the Williston Basin of North Dakota and Montana, a modified completion design that in part involves larger sand volumes also is contributing to strong production at Whiting’s emerging Retail prospect in the Niobrara play in Colorado’s Denver Julesburg Basin, Weld County.

“We are employing larger fracks that are generating excellent results,” James T. Brown, Whiting’s president and chief operating officer, said during the conference call.

“The frack volumes have been a very definite uptick for us,” added Michael Stevens, Whiting’s chief financial officer. “We’ve gone from 2 million pound fracks up to 7 million on our 960 (spacing unit) and that’s been a game changer for us, certainly in the last quarter.”

Razor well flows at 1,400 boepd

Redtail highlights include recent completion of the Razor 33-2813H, which flowed more than 1,400 boe per day from the Niobrara B zone. The well’s 6,047-foot lateral, drilled on a 960-acre spacing unit, was fracture stimulated in 32 stages, using the new frack design, Brown said.

Whiting also applied the new design to its 640-acre spacing unit wells with positive results, he said, noting that the Razor 25-2514H flowed 636 boe per day. The well’s 3,716-foot lateral was fracture stimulated in 18 stages.

A second drilling rig was recently moved to Redtail, the company said, adding that a third rig will arrive in October. And plans call for two more rigs in 2014, for a total of five rigs.

Whiting also has been able to lower its individual well cost in the Niobrara to about $5.5 million, and projects estimated ultimate recover, EUR, at 500,000 to 600,000 boe per well.

In Texas, net production from Whiting’s North Ward Estes field, an enhanced oil recovery project, averaged 9,275 boe per day in the second quarter of 2012, a 9 percent increase over 8,545 boe per day in the first quarter. Whiting is injecting about 350 million cubic feet of CO2 per day into the field, of which about 63 percent is recycled gas.

Meanwhile, Whiting said the company is on track to increase full-year 2013 production by 12 percent, even after taking into account a loss of 7,560 boe per day associated with the sale of its Postle field assets in July. The company believes it can replace most of the production in a single quarter.

“Increased efficiencies in the Williston Basin are allowing us to drill more wells than planned, with the same rig count of 20 rigs,” said James Volker, Whiting’s chairman and chief executive officer. He said $200 million of the $300 million increase in the company’s revised $2.5 billion capital budget is earmarked for the Williston Basin and Redtail areas.

“We’re already seeing the benefits from the faster pace of drilling,” Volker said.

Whiting reported adjusted net income in the 2013 second quarter of $121.3 million, or $1.02 per diluted share. Discretionary cash flow totaled $440.9 million, representing a 42 percent increase over the $310.5 million in the second quarter of 2012 sand a 10 percent increase over the first quarter of 2013.

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