News from ShaleTech 2012: Abraxas Petroleum’s Bommer outlines Bakken study findings
BY KURT ABRAHAM
HOUSTON -- At the ShaleTech conference and exhibition in Houston, Abraxas Petroleum Vice President of Engineering Pete Bommer explained how a two-year study of individual Bakken shale well data has enabled his firm to discern some significant trends and strategies. The two-day ShaleTech event is hosted by World Oil and its parent, Gulf Publishing.
Bommer said that his study utilized public, governmental data, mostly from the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC ). Abraxas only operates in the western half of the Bakken, so the company was interested in the 2,932 wells that make up the western portion of 4,080 total wells in the play. Of that number, 1,406 wells actually comprised the study area, representing activity of more than a dozen operators.
He noted that the Abraxas study of the Bakken considered a number of variables, including geologic variation; steering effectiveness; lateral length; the number of frac stages pumped; the sizes of those stages; exit methods; types of proppant; and “operational excellence.” Findings of the study led to four main conclusions—1) Drill the longest lateral possible, as most of the better-producing Bakken wells have been long horizontals; 2) Save money on the exit method; 3) Don’t scrimp on the number of frac stages; and 4) Don’t scrimp on proppant mass.
In assessing data, Bommer said that “the measure of a good well is the best month of production, as a quality proxy.” He also noted that Bakken operators are increasingly “using a lot of ceramic, and that drives the cost up.” Average Bakken well costs, said Bommer, run from $7.0 million/well to $14.0 million/well. “Let me also say that just because a well winds up costing $14 million, it is not necessarily a problem well. Many factors can affect cost.” He said that Abraxas plans its Bakken operations on the basis of a $95/bbl NYMEX price, which usually translates to an $85/bbl wellhead price.