Bakken (Williston Basin) Oil Production Is Set To Soar Again

Joseph Wells profile picture
Joseph Wells


  • Bakken oil well drilling is down substantially compared to 2014.
  • Bakken oil production has been trending flat since 2016.
  • Despite the trends, computer modeling indicates Bakken oil production will reach a new record in 2018.


I have created a virtual oil field production simulator. For this article, oil well production was simulated for all oil wells located in the Williston basin. The simulation was allowed to run for future months in order to effectively forecast future oil production.

Virtual Oil Well

(image source:Illinois DNR)

In this simulation, virtual oil wells were added to a virtual oil field over time based on the estimated effect of the number of active Bakken drilling rigs as reported by Baker Hughes.

Bakken Oil Rigs

The number of drilling rigs was assumed to remain constant during future months. This allows for the presumption that if future drilling activity increases then future production would increase above the modeled result, and visa versa.

Oil wells were assumed to be complete a number of weeks after drilling commenced and only then produced oil. Production decline for the newly drilled virtual oil wells was assumed to follow a typical Bakken decline curve as shown below. Production decline curves for many US oil and gas basins can be found at

Bakken Oil Well Curve

The initial estimated production rate of each virtual oil well, over time, was based on data from the EIA Drilling Rig Productivity Report (DPR). The EIA calculates Drilling Rig Productivity based on the reported number of all active drilling rigs and the reported total production from all newly completed wells. The virtual Oil Well Productivity Factors, shown below, were generated from the relative changes in EIA calculated Drilling Rig Productivity over time.

Bakken Oil Well Productivity Factor

Drilling Rig Productivity at Bakken appears to be nearing the end of a large innovation S-Curve, at least temporarily. Therefore, future oil well productivity factor growth is assumed to remain relatively subdued.

After an actual well is drilled it must be physically worked to completion (e.g. fracked). EIA's monthly DPR includes an inventory of drilled but uncompleted wells (DUCs) in a 'DUC Supplement'. The

This article was written by

Joseph Wells profile picture
Professional Engineer, programmer and commodity investor who enjoys hearing from both ignorant and informed investors. Unfortunately, SA censors both so its value is limited.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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