Marathon (MRO) has been increasing the number of stages it uses in Bakken well completions. This seems to be the new standard for several companies. I covered this in a recent article about Continental (CLR). Although it uses mostly short laterals, EOG Resources (EOG) is also increasing the number of stages. Whiting (WLL) is also increasing stages without increasing water volumes, or amounts of proppant.
Although Marathon's Eagle Ford acreage is its flagship play, it is working the middle Bakken and upper Three Forks hard. Bailey Field has been one of its most active areas. Here are some of Marathon's completions in this field.
|Name||Date||Choke||Stages||Water||Proppant||60Day IP||120Day IP|
|Tim Eckelberg 44-22H||12/11||20/64||30||29644||2683840||505||339|
|Ella Guenther 21-29H||7/11||20/64||20||23790||2611720||498||374|
|T Kupper USA 34-11H||4/11||24/64||20||25960||2488493||342||240|
|Rosa Benz 44-23H||4/11||16/64||15||24134||2656420||312||244|
|Gertrude Tuhy 34-24H||3/11||20/64||14||13623||1948740||105||82|
Bailey Field is located in the central portion of Dunn County. This is not the best acreage in the basin, but it is still very economic. Marathon's 2011 results are characterized by a low number of stages, low volumes of water and moderate amounts of proppant. These variables reinforce Marathon's below average results to date when compared to the competition. Marathon's Eagle Ford program is going quite well, so it is my belief its acreage in the Williston Basin has taken a little longer to develop as it is second on the priority list. It is making changes to its Bakken program in 2012, which should improve initial production rates and estimated ultimate recoveries or EURs. The table below illustrates these changes.
|Scheralee Dolezal USA 14-10H||1/12||28/64||30||21454||2340300||60Day=255|
|Ben Reckard 44-22H||2/12||28/64||30||20566||2337400||60Day=658|
|Ben Reckard 41-27H||2/12||21/64||27||20416||2014220||60Day=569|
With two exceptions in Bailey Field, Marathon used 30 stage fracs. It also lowered the amount of water and proppant. Less restrictive chokes were also applied to its new completion technique. Marathon has been clear in its intent to move to 30 stage fracs. This move has also prompted an increase in EURs from 400 MBoe to 500 MBoe in the Bailey Field area. Just two years ago that EUR was under 200 MBoe.
In summary, the current changes being made by Marathon have been positive. How positive is a little deceiving as the use of a less restrictive choke is allowing crude to flow with less restriction. Ben Reckard 44-22H was an excellent result given the geology of the area and compared to wells completed last year. Look for continued improvements as the year goes on. I would guess we will see Marathon increasing the amounts of water and proppant going forward.