The Bakken story continues to unfold. Very material improvements in Bakken well performance are being produced in this Williston Basin oil-shale play, which continues to ramp up in North Dakota and Saskatchewan with eye-popping initial-production rates.

“This is a play that’s going to see more changes and more improvements over time,” Bud Brigham, president, chief executive officer and chairman of Brigham Exploration Co. (Nasdaq: BEXP) told some 800 participants in the Bakken 2008 webinar hosted this morning by Hart Energy Publishing LP, the publisher of Oil and Gas Investor, and sponsored by oilfield-service provider Weatherford International Ltd. (NYSE: WFT).

Brigham Exploration’s Bakken wells include EOG Austin 19-30H, which began producing last month at 2,457 barrels of oil per day. Adix 25 #1H, a short, lateral, Three Forks completion that underwent 11 fracture-stimulations, began producing 892 barrels equivalent per day in October. Carkuff 22 #1H, which underwent fracture of 12 intervals, began producing 1,110 barrels equivalent per day in July.

Brigham was joined in the webinar by Jim Volker, chairman, president and CEO of Denver-based Whiting Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: WLL), and by Weatherford experts David Tonner, director, global sales, surface logging systems, and Barry Ekstrand, vice president, pressure pumping and well stimulation.

Having Permian, Midcontinent, Gulf Coast and Michigan operations as well, most of Whiting's third-quarter 2008 production growth came from Bakken wells in Sanish and Parshall fields, which are in Mountrail County, North Dakota.

The area of conductivity-enhancement holds great promise in the Bakken and in other plays due to advancements in exploration, exploitation and production technology, applications and practices, according to Ekstrand. “We will ultimately maximize conductivity and longevity of these wells,” he said.

The play is stimulation-intensive, according to Volker. Bakken wells may receive as many as 10 to 20 fracs, per interval, he said.

Brigham expects results from wells both west of Nesson and east to continue to make exploration-success maps, as the productive limits of the play will expand. Of course, “the results will be variable,” he added, as holes are made and outer limits are logged.

As for the play’s economic longevity under sub-$50 oil prices, Ekstrand expects some softening in producers’ capex spending in the area in 2009, “but we don’t expect it to be huge.”

The webinar is now archived at

–Nissa Darbonne, Executive Editor, Oil and Gas Investor, A&D Watch, Today,,;