Data, Stats, News & Info

Bakken Basin Data,
History & Stats

This guide provides information about the Bakken Basin, oil and gas data, history, top operators and other facts.

Williston Counties

Overview

Bakken Basin Oil and Gas

Located in eastern Montana, western North Dakota, South Dakota, and southern Saskatchewan, the Bakken or Williston Basin is a sizable intracratonic sedimentary basin that is well-known for its abundant resources of potash and petroleum. The Missouri River cuts through the basin, which is a geologic structural basin rather than a geographical depression. The oval-shaped depression stretches for around 475 miles from north to south and 300 miles from east to west.

About 3.8 billion barrels of oil and 470 billion cubic feet of natural gas have been produced cumulatively from the basin

What is the Bakken Basin?

The Bakken or Williston Basin is a significant petroleum producer. Natural gas and oil are extracted from the basin’s uppermost sand layers and deep limestone strata. The majority of oil-bearing zones were deposited during basin formation in the Paleozoic, but later structural traps were created by the rock folding and faulting during the development of the Rocky Mountains.

The basin is characterized by thick sequences of sediments that underlie an area of about 110,000 square miles.

Williston Basin Location

Natural resources obtained on The Williston Basin

Potash

Canada is the largest producer of potash in the world thanks to the Williston Basin. The Middle Devonian Prairie Formation is where the sediments are found. Companies that produce a lot of potash include Nutrien and Mosaic.

Coal

Large coal deposits are found in the Williston Basin, particularly in the Fort Union Formation, which is primarily Paleogene in age. They were discovered during the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In the vicinity of Sims, North Dakota, coal mining started in 1873 but was quickly stopped. As the Northern Pacific Coal Company, the Northern Pacific Railway took over the mine and developed the lignite beds. The area around Minot and Dickinson, North Dakota, saw the opening of additional mines, and the lignite industry expanded significantly between 1900 and 1920. Since then, it has experienced booms and busts.

Helium

Significant Helium concentrations were found in southwest Saskatchewan in 1952. Four wells were used for production between 1963 and 1977, and again in 2014. The maximum concentration was found in the Deadwood Formation and other Lower Paleozoic formations. In Precambrian granitic basement rocks, also known as Lower Paleozoic shales, uranium and thorium underwent natural radioactive decay to produce helium.

The Bakken Basin: History, Data and Facts

The Williston Basin is found above an ancient Precambrian geologic basement feature, the Trans-Hudson Orogenic Belt, which was formed between 1.8 and 1.9 billion years ago. Between 472 million and 462 million years ago, the land began to gently sag downward. This process is thought to have started during the Middle Ordovician Epoch. Over the course of the following 400 million years, the basin was periodically covered by rising seas, which caused a slow deposit of marine sediments.

In 1913, shallow gas was discovered in an Upper Cretaceous sandstone on the Cedar Creek Anticline, and oil was discovered on the same anticline in 1936. Large fields were not discovered in North Dakota until the 1950s, when the basin started to develop into a significant oil-producing area. In 1946, Amerada Corporation started exploring the basin. They began drilling at a promising lease 30 miles northeast of Williston, North Dakota. After four years of testing and mapping, n April 4, 1951, the Amerada Hess Corporation Clarence Iverson #1 well struck oil on the Nesson Anticline.

In Billings County’s Red River Formation, oil was found in 1968. The highly successful output was driven by the Red River discovery as well as the Bell Creek Field discovery. In 1968 oil was discovered in the Red River Formation in Billings county, with the discovery of Bell Creek Field. The Red Wing Creek Field, a complicated geological structure with a pay section that was 1,000 feet thick, was found in 1972. A year later, because the Arab Oil Embargo was implemented exploration, increased and the Billings anticline complex, Mondak field, and the Knife field were discovered. Finally, production began in the Bakken. The discovery of the Dickinson Lodgepole Field along with the discovery of the Red River “B” Pool in Bowman County.

Production reached its high in 1986, although in the early 2000s, there was a noticeable increase in production thanks to the introduction of horizontal drilling methods, particularly in the Bakken Formation. And although during Covid there was a decrease in rig counts, it’s been increasing this past year [Chart below].

Bakken Basin Rig Count
Bakken Basin Rig Count (2019 to 2022)

Unconventional oil production over the last 10 years

Unconventional Daily Oil Production Williston Basin
Horizontal Well Daily Oil Production [bo/d]
Reported production of wells in the Williston Basin
Number of horizontal wells with reported production, by state

Top 20 counties [April 2012 - April 2022]

Daily Oil Production of the top 20 counties in the Williston Basin
Horizontal Well Daily Oil Production [bo/d] of the Top 20 Counties
Ranking County State Horizontal Well Count April 2022 - Daily Production (Bo/d)
1 McKenzie North Dakota 5.45 312.936
2 Mountrail North Dakota 3.533 185.012
3 Dunn (ND) North Dakota 2.84 204.637
4 Williams (ND) North Dakota 3.161 126.933
5 Richland (MT) Montana 1.071 16.249
6 Divide North Dakota 774 11.018
7 Bowman North Dakota 261 6.724
8 Billings North Dakota 251 5.39
9 Burke (ND) North Dakota 362 4.693
10 Stark (ND) North Dakota 232 3.453
11 Roosevelt (MT) Montana 192 3.507
12 Fallon Montana 131 2.57
13 Bottineau North Dakota 222 1.651
14 McLean (ND) North Dakota 45 1.139
15 Golden Valley (ND) North Dakota 39 449
16 Slope North Dakota 14 386
17 Dawson (MT) Montana 23 349
18 Sheridan (MT) Montana 64 273
19 Renville (ND) North Dakota 21 188
20 McHenry (ND) North Dakota 3 105

Top 50 oil operators [April 2012 - April 2022]

Daily oil production of the top 50 operators in the Williston Basin
Horizontal Well Daily Oil Production [bo/d] of the Top 50 Operators
Ranking Operator State Horizontal Well Count April 2022 - Daily Production (Bo/d)
1 Continental Resources North Dakota & Montana 2.354 137.265
2 Chord Energy North Dakota 3.381 113.466
3 Hess North Dakota 1.639 70.672
4 Marathon North Dakota 906 78.519
5 ConocoPhillips North Dakota & Montana 833 48.688
6 Slawson North Dakota & Montana 525 57.859
7 Enerplus North Dakota & Montana 865 44.149
8 Exxon Mobil North Dakota & Montana 1.069 56.698
9 Devon Energy North Dakota 481 39.05
10 Petro-Hunt North Dakota & Montana 637 37.78
11 Grayson Mill Energy North Dakota 734 43.606
12 Ovintiv North Dakota & Montana 377 21.124
13 EOG North Dakota & Montana 850 17.562
14 Kraken North Dakota & Montana 322 16.175
15 RimRock North Dakota 169 10.067
16 Crescent Point Energy North Dakota 168 9.519
17 Zavanna North Dakota 156 10.293
18 Lime Rock III North Dakota 328 7.655
19 Bowline Energy North Dakota & Montana 204 9.989
20 Hunt Oil North Dakota 153 8.08
21 Denbury North Dakota & Montana 284 5.391
22 Sinclair North Dakota 77 5.158
23 PetroShale North Dakota 48 5.646
24 White Rock Oil & Gas North Dakota & Montana 276 4.798
25 Liberty Resources North Dakota 104 2.895
26 Murex Petroleum North Dakota 113 2.768
27 Formentera Operations, LLC North Dakota 217 1.994
28 EMEP North Dakota & Montana 256 2.429
29 Abraxas North Dakota 63 1.883
30 Iron Oil North Dakota 33 2.656
31 White Butte Oil Operations North Dakota 15 1.059
32 Oasis Montana 91 1.817
33 Whiting Montana 79 1.18
34 NP Resources North Dakota 53 964
35 Cobra North Dakota 76 891
36 Petro Harvester North Dakota 39 396
37 Koda Resources North Dakota 12 1.582
38 Kaiser Francis North Dakota 41 644
39 True Oil North Dakota & Montana 16 501
40 Spotted Hawk Development, LLC North Dakota 18 175
41 Ballantyne Oil North Dakota 114 565
42 Prima Exploration North Dakota & Montana 38 466
43 Samson Oil & Gas North Dakota & Montana 37 236
44 Scout Energy North Dakota & Montana 38 334
45 Cornerstone North Dakota 36 245
46 Valkyrie Operating, LLC North Dakota 11 230
47 Missouri River North Dakota 9 258
48 Petrogulf Corporation North Dakota 4 239
49 Resonance Exploration (north Dakota) LLC North Dakota 9 206
50 Gadeco North Dakota 7 183

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Gas production over the last 10 years

Daily gas production in the Williston Basin
Horizontal Well Daily Gas Production [Mcf/d]

Top 20 counties [April 2012 - April 2022]

Daily gas production of the top 20 counties in the Williston Basin
Daily gas production [Mcf/d] of the top 20 counties
Ranking County State Horizontal Well Count April 2022 - Daily Production (Mcf/d)
1 McKenzie North Dakota 5.45 1,260,784
2 Williams (ND) North Dakota 3.161 393.271
3 Mountrail North Dakota 3.535 356.885
4 Dunn (ND) North Dakota 2.84 324.709
5 Richland (MT) Montana 1.071 26.058
6 Divide North Dakota 774 20.439
7 Burke (ND) North Dakota 362 13.318
8 Stark (ND) North Dakota 232 12.405
9 Billings North Dakota 251 10.14
10 Bowman North Dakota 261 7.521
11 Roosevelt (MT) Montana 192 6.811
12 McLean (ND) North Dakota 45 807
13 Fallon Montana 131 835
14 Golden Valley (ND) North Dakota 39 380
15 Bottineau North Dakota 222 290
16 Dawson (MT) Montana 23 254
17 Slope North Dakota 14 124
18 Sheridan (MT) Montana 64 111
19 Wibaux Montana 10 8
20 Ward (ND) North Dakota 1 5

Top 50 natural gas operators [April 2012 - April 2022]

Horizontal Well Daily Gas Production [Mcf/d] of the Top 50 Operators
Ranking Operator State Horizontal Well Count April 2022 - Daily Production (Mcf/d)
1 Chord Energy North Dakota 3.381 410.357
2 Continental Resources North Dakota & Montana 2.354 421.244
3 Hess North Dakota 1.639 244.143
4 ConocoPhillips North Dakota & Montana 833 162.336
5 Exxon Mobil North Dakota & Montana 1.069 160.756
6 Marathon North Dakota 906 150.252
7 Devon Energy North Dakota 481 96.804
8 Enerplus North Dakota & Montana 865 82.549
9 Grayson Mill Energy North Dakota 734 133.18
10 Petro-Hunt North Dakota & Montana 637 98.507
11 Slawson North Dakota & Montana 525 75.551
12 Ovintiv North Dakota & Montana 377 76.746
13 EOG North Dakota & Montana 850 58.896
14 Zavanna North Dakota 156 62.767
15 Kraken North Dakota & Montana 322 37.14
16 Crescent Point Energy North Dakota 168 18.357
17 RimRock North Dakota 169 18.531
18 Abraxas North Dakota 63 16.742
19 Bowline Energy North Dakota & Montana 204 13.428
20 PetroShale North Dakota 48 13.983
21 Liberty Resources North Dakota 104 9.421
22 Lime Rock III North Dakota 328 9.363
23 Sinclair North Dakota 77 8.089
24 Petro Harvester North Dakota 39 4.747
25 Hunt Oil North Dakota 153 7.906
26 White Rock Oil & Gas North Dakota & Montana 276 4.394
27 Murex Petroleum North Dakota 113 5.37
28 Formentera Operations, LLC North Dakota 217 4.898
29 EMEP North Dakota & Montana 256 5.268
30 White Butte Oil Operations North Dakota 15 2.62
31 Iron Oil North Dakota 33 4.067
32 Oasis Montana 91 2.568
33 Whiting Montana 79 1.581
34 NP Resources North Dakota 53 1.508
35 Denbury North Dakota & Montana 284 1.48
36 Missouri River North Dakota 9 885
37 Kaiser Francis North Dakota 41 937
38 True Oil North Dakota & Montana 16 742
39 Spotted Hawk Development, LLC North Dakota 18 271
40 Gadeco North Dakota 7 586
41 Koda Resources North Dakota 12 1.394
42 Challenger North Dakota 15 485
43 Prima Exploration North Dakota & Montana 38 486
44 Petrogulf Corporation North Dakota 4 483
45 Mercury North Dakota 12 294
46 Cornerstone North Dakota 36 404
47 Valkyrie Operating, LLC North Dakota 11 454
48 Eagle Operating North Dakota 30 244
49 Windridge Operating, LLC North Dakota 4 234
50 Scout Energy North Dakota & Montana 38 234

Upstream Oil & Gas Data​

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  • Well header data
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  • Vertical and horizontal wells included

 

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