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Oil Exec: Well Costs To Fall in Bakken

An executive at an oil and gas company recently said that he expects the cost of drilling in North Dakota's Bakken formation to fall in the coming years.

James Volker, the chief executive officer of Whiting Petroleum (WLL:NYSE) says that he believes new drilling technology, better well designs and new sand mines will drive the costs down, reports Reuters.

Specifically, Volker said that the cost of a new well will drop to about $7.3 million from its current perch of $8.3 million. The executive – who was speaking at a Wells Fargo conference – said that the cost would eventually plummet further to $6.5 million.

According to Reuters, Volker said that his company spent $10 million on each new well when it began to operate in the Sanish Fields of the Bakken.

In addition to the costs of wells in the play going down, they are being completed even faster. According to analysts, it takes about 15 days to complete a well in the Bakken, a 50 percent reduction in time compared to 12 months prior, reports Reuters.

These developments – both a reduction in cost and an increase in speed – will help companies tap into one of the fastest growing plays in not only the country, but the world.

September saw the Bakken produce 485 million cubic feet of shale gas per day, which is up from the 150 million cubic feet per day figure from 2005, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Well costs in America's other shale gas darling – the Eagle Ford in Texas – have gone in the opposite direction.

Michael Hall, a senior analyst at Robert W. Baird, told the Hart Energy's Developing Unconventional Gas Conference & Exhibition in October that the costs of completing a well in the play have nearly doubled, going from $5.3 million to $10 million over the past year or so, reports the Houston Chronicle. 



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