While operators in other plays have been jogging toward the sweet spots over the past 6 months, Bakken operators have been on a mad dash from fringe to core. This makes sense as Bakken production economics can be more challenging than the Texas oil plays due in part to the additional transportation costs to move product from well-head to refinery. In fact, we estimate the Bakken fringe break-even oil price requirement is about 15% higher than the Permian average and 30% above the Eagle Ford. High grading is an absolute necessity in the Bakken in this oil price tape.
The rig count in smaller, fringe areas has gone to zero. And in the larger, more important county markets, a shift to wells with advantaged economics is evident, favoring the McKenzie county area first and Williams and Mountrail counties secondarily. In fact, McKenzie county now accounts for half of all rigs drilling in the Bakken (up from just 30% last November). Of the major areas, Dunn county towards the south of the core has been the underperformer. Absent a return to $75+ oil, it’s fair to say that Bakken location experimentation is a largely thing of the past and drilling activity will continue to concentrate in the McKenzie sweet spot.
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