Ten largest operators account for 90% of 2011 Bakken growth

The ten largest operators in the Bakken Shale account for 90% of the play’s growth in 2011, adding 36 rigs year-to-date, noted Global Hunter Securities (GHS) analysts in a note to investors December 19.

The Bakken, primarily an oil play, straddles the US border with Canada and runs through two states – North Dakota and Montana – and two Canadian provinces – Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and is estimated by the US Geological Survey to contain roughly 3.65 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil.

The analysts, who last week covered the Eagle Ford Shale as part of a continuing series reviewing major US unconventional plays and how they have evolved through 2011, covered the Bakken this week.

The rig count in the play as of Friday, December 16, was 196, up 26% year-to-date. Of the 40 incremental rigs, 36 were added by the ten largest operators in the play. Of those, Occidental Petroleum has increased the rig count the most. The 11 additional rigs bring the company’s rig count from two to 13.

Other major players in the Bakken include EOG Resources, Continental Resources, and Enerplus Resources.

While Occidental added the most rigs to the play this year, Nabors added eight. According to GHS data, it looks like the company will end 2011 as the operator with the most rigs in the play with 47 as of Friday, December 16. The company accounted for roughly 24%-25% of the market in 2011. The analysts noted that Nabors’, in a December presentation, announced 19 newbuilds headed to the market along with rigs being mobilized, adding up to 70 working rigs in place in 2012.

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