Pad drilling

WILLISTON Continental Resources’ Atlanta Pad near Williston is permitted for drilling 14 wells on the single pad.

“Four should be producing by early next week,” said Mary Ann Osko, director of Public Relations for Continental Resources in Oklahoma City, on Feb. 6. “Ten more are still being completed and should be producing in the near future.”

Pad drilling multi wells on a single pad is popular in the Bakken.

In 2013, two thirds of the permits issued for drilling wells in the oil patch were for multi-pads, said Alison Ritter, public information officer for the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources in Bismarck.

The majority of operators in the Bakken are drilling multi-wells on a single pad, Ritter said. “The average number is four on a pad.”

But a pad could have eight to 20, she said.

Rory Nelson, of Williston, was named North Dakota’s energy impact coordinator last year. Nelson told members of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce’s Energy Committee at a meeting in Minot recently, that by drilling multi wells on a pad more of the formation can be drilled and more oil can be recovered. “It actually makes the infrastructure a little bit easier,” he added.

Although pad drilling is being done by most of the Bakken operators, there are some fields with single wells drilled, Ritter said.

Continental was one of the first companies to drill multi-wells on a single pad. The company completed its first multi-wells on a single pad called ECO-Pad in 2010 in Dunn County (four wells from a single drilling pad) from the Three Forks and Middle Bakken Formations of the North Dakota Bakken, according to the company website.

Osko said the wells on the Atlanta Pad were drilled in December 2012 through the fourth quarter of 2013. The Atlanta Pad is located southwest of Williston, about 4 miles from the downtown, and it covers 20 acres.

Continental Resources is the largest operation in the Bakken by virtue of its leasehold position, its activity and its production, Osko said.

“There are a number of benefits to multi-well pads,” she said.

“They allow a significantly reduced footprint due to the well density on location versus one location per well. Operationally, we are able to batch drill the surface, intermediate, and production holes in separate segments, much like a factory-line process. It also minimizes the number of times we need to rig up or construct the rig since we can ‘walk’ the rig well to well.

“This also applies to the completion phase. The stimulation crew can rig up and stay on location rather than rig up and down 20 times. This allows us to be much more efficient and reduce the overall cycle time and cost necessary to drill and complete the wells.

“From a production perspective, we also have gas and oil pipelines to the location to take our product to market. When you combine all these benefits, you drastically reduce the amount of time to bring this number of wells on line. You minimize the disturbance, cost, cycle time and truck traffic from every perspective traveling to and from the Atlanta location. It’s a very positive thing for Continental as well as the surrounding community,” Osko said.

She said Continental Resources plans to drill the majority of its Bakken wells on multi-well pads for the same operational and environmental-efficiency reasons previously mentioned.

“We plan on continuing to utilize state-of-the-art technology and processes to minimize our impact on the environment and optimize our operations. If there are opportunities to increase the surface density of our wells, we plan on taking advantage of that based on best management practices,” Osko said.

She said Continental has a few rigs that are still drilling single wells on a location. “These are almost solely for the purpose of holding those particular leases through production. That, however, doesn’t eliminate the possibility that we would come back in at a later date and drill more wells on that existing pad,” Osko said.

Ritter said the EERC Energy & Environmental Research Center based in Grand Forks is working on a Bakken study that will cover a list of topics including how many wells are needed and well density.