The economic boundaries of the Williston Basin are being expanded with improved practices. This paper discusses advances in reservoir characterization coupled with the implementation of refined stimulation techniques that have achieved strongly compelling results in an area of the Williston Basin that was previously perceived to be marginally economic.
After more than a decade of intense development, the remaining undrilled acreage in the core of the Bakken has been drastically reduced. Consequently, there is strong motivation to identify additional economically viable drilling locations. Hydraulic fracturing treatments incorporating increased volumes of fluid and proppant in more closely spaced clusters have successfully increased well productivity in many resource plays across the industry. The contemporary slickwater and slickwater hybrid designs implemented in the Bakken have spurred a renaissance of continued development throughout the basin. While these increasingly large frac treatments improve well productivity, in some parts of the basin the high treatment expenses and resulting elevated watercuts challenge the economic viability of development.
Rote application of the "bigger is better" completion strategies developed for the core of the basin has been unsuccessful in some portions of the Bakken. This paper describes the unique geologic characteristics of the study area and the stimulation strategy that has been adapted to accommodate the geologic differences while achieving excellent economic results. Implementation of completion designs tailored to the area has yielded a 300 to 400% production increase compared to offset wells. This "right sized" completion strategy customized for the area achieved highly productive wells with substantially lower capital costs than were budgeted based on strategies currently popular in the core of the Bakken. Although treatment designs continue to evolve and additional improvements are anticipated, the summary of experimentation and learnings from seven sequential wells may be helpful to others pursuing assets considered "marginal".