Whiting's Recent Sanish Field Results: Increased Stages Without Increased Proppant And Water Volumes

| About: Whiting Petroleum (WLL)

In my most recent article covering an increasing number of stages being used in the Bakken/Three Forks, I tried to show Continental (NYSE:CLR) is currently converting completions to what looks to be a 30 stage method. I chose this company specifically, as it has been slower to adopt this higher number and has historically used 24 stages throughout 2010 and 2011. Covering Whiting (NYSE:WLL) seemed to be one of the logical companies to cover as it not only has a large inventory of wells in the Williston Basin, but it has one of the more developed fields.

The Sanish Field is not to be confused with what was called the Sanish sands and is now called the Pronghorn sands. Sanish, along with Parshall Field, were the first two major fields to be developed in North Dakota. It was once thought these two fields were the best, but since then we are finding there are several with much better production. It is difficult to know if the newer fields, like Poe, are better given the marked improvements in drilling and completion technologies. Results have also continued to improve based on producers getting comfortable with the geology as well. Since many of the variables are difficult to control or moreover impossible to measure, I am limited but can still show general improvement.

It was not that long ago that three areas were the focus in North Dakota. The first was Ross operated by Brigham (NYSE:STO). The second was EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) in Parshall Field and Whiting in the Sanish. Whiting's results have been quite good, as seen in the table below.

2011 Whiting Sanish Results
Name Date Choke Stages Water Proppant 60-Day IP(Bo/d) 120-Day IP
Oppeboen 14-5WH 3/11 48/64 22 26177 1870420 768 650
Lacey 14-1XH 1/11 40/64 22 26035 2272620 575 507
Lacey 12-1TFH 10/11 40/64 30 17725 1840320 197 203
Vangen 11-3TFH 6/11 40/64 26 25702 1872400 472 380
Lacey 14-3XH 8/11 48/64 30 30133 2098540 552 474
Lilly Peterson 13-4TFH 9/11 40/64 30 26323 1815100 420 377
Foreman 24-4TFH 4/11 48/64 22 20592 1038900 275 244
Brehm 21-4H 4/11 40/64 22 27340 2163900 339 279
Barlow 14-6XH 3/11 181/64 38 83024 4106600 411 342
Brehm 12-7H 1/11 48/64 22 30144 2171270 290 289
Brehm 12-7TFH 9/11 40/64 30 23872 1411060 453 368
Lacey 12-10 TFH 8/11 40/64 25 23994 1574500 149 185
Ness 21-3H 1/11 48/64 22 27662 2307720 425 363
Bartleson 21-3H 2/11 40/64 30 33610 2649590 390 310
Click to enlarge

The results above show why Whiting has been able to do such a good job of keeping well costs down. Proppant is very expensive and at 70 cents/barrel in North Dakota, water costs add up quickly. In Bakken Update: Increased Stages Have Shown Marked IP Rate Improvements Year Over Year, we noted Continental has been using around 60000 Bbls. of water and 3 million pounds of proppant per well. This is significantly more than Whiting has used consistently. One well I think deserves some attention is the Barlow 14-6XH. This well had by far the largest number of stages, water and proppant. It had a very poor showing considering the time and money spent on it. In the table below I will cover Whiting's Sanish Field results for 2012.

2012 Whiting Sanish Field Results
Name Date Choke Stages Water Proppant IP Rate (Bo/d)
S-Bar 14-7XH 5/12 48/64 30 31207 2285400 15 Day= 587
S-Bar 14-7TFH 5/12 24/64 25 22143 1604360 8 Day= 450
Jones 34-4H 3/12 48/64 26 27286 2055720 78 Day= 619
Jorgensen11-27H 2/12 64/64 26 27187 1866840 120 Day= 267
Ramona TTT 12-25TFH 5/12 40/64 30 25816 1759440 6 Day= 211
Click to enlarge

Although Continental has seen a very nice improvement in IP rates from increasing the number of stages, Whiting's results have not been as noticeable. The biggest reason for this is not increasing the amount of water and proppant in conjunction. Many of Whiting's 2012 Sanish Field results are still on confidential status, so we may not have a real good idea of these results for a few months. It would seem Whiting has to make a decision as to increasing well costs or EURs. Given the results of other oil and gas producers in the Williston Basin, Whiting may have to start spending to increase production at some point.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.