Brigham Exploration accelerating Bakken program

With additional rigs scheduled and an increase in its acreage position, Brigham Exploration Co. (NASDAQ: BEXP) plans to accelerate its Williston Basin drilling program. 

Based on public information available in mid-April, Brigham Exploration held the four highest initial rate Bakken wells and seven of the top 10 initial rate Bakken wells in the Williston Basin.

An eighth operated rig is expected to be in place by the end of May, a ninth in June, a tenth in early July, and another two in the first quarter of 2012. The pace is approximately six months ahead of its previously announced schedule.

Through acquisition, the company has expanded its Williston Basin acreage position to 378,100 net acres from 370,200 as of the company’s last earnings call. The company expects the acquisition to take its core acreage position to 224,400 acres from 217,900.

As a result of the acceleration, Brigham anticipates that an additional 8.2 net wells will be spud in 2011 and has increased its oil and gas capital expenditure budget to $835.5 million from $692.7 million.

To fund the accelerated program, the company is launching a $250 million senior notes offering due 2019, noted a May 16 report from Global Hunter Securities.

Global Hunter sees Brigham’s accelerated program as slightly dilutive to 2011 earnings and cash flow due to higher interest cost associated with land purchases, but accretive in 2012 on an earnings, cash flow and NAV per share basis.

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