Multi-stage horizontal well designs have been used since 2007 in the Bakken oil-field of North Dakota. Since then over 12,000 wells have been completed in either the Middle Bakken or Three Forks zones. Early-time production rates as measured by 180-day state-reported cumulative production have increased 4-fold over this period as industry has pursued a program of innovation and continuous improvement in completions technology with production per well increasing in ten of the twelve years.
Through a "Big-Data" analytical study comparing geological data, completions parameters, and state-reported production results the authors have evaluated the fundamental changes that have guided industry to produce these results over the past twelve years. While geological changes in different areas drove both the drilling "mania" during times of $100 oil and consequent contraction of the industry when wellhead prices dropped below $40 per BO; it is the advances in completion design and hydraulic fracturing that have driven macro performance over the twelve years - and resulted in this significant increase in production per well. These completion advances have allowed the region to compete on a global scale with production that while dipping to ~1.0 Million bopd in 2016 has now rebounded to over 1.2 Million bopd.
Large datasets of geological, completions and production data take years to assemble and analyze. Through the authors use of multivariate analysis techniques this paper presents the deterministic factors affecting well performance in the Bakken and provides guidance and best practices towards applying these techniques in emerging international plays.