December 6, 2012: the note below was written before we knew the results of CLR's plan to target the third bench of the Three Forks formation was known. Now we know.
Don alerted me to the most recent CLR corporate presentation when it first came out; I was too busy to get to it at the time, but said I would eventually get to it. Then I forgot all about it. Fortunately, Brian, sent me a comment suggesting I should take a look. How fortuitous.
This is another corporate presentation that seems to have been missed by many of us. If Mike Filloon has mentioned it I missed it.
This stand-alone post should be filed under "How big is the Bakken?" The numbers are staggering.
As you go through this, remember, I often make mistakes, have no formal training in any of this, and am prone to misreading slides and presentations. But this is what I think I saw in CLR's most recent corporate presentation.
First, some data points:
- folks can correct me, but I believe the official estimate is that the Bakken has about 3 billion barrels of recoverable oil, based on a USGS survey back in 2008
- CLR/CEO, Harold Hamm, stated some time ago his company's estimate is that the Bakken/Three Forks (middle Bakken and upper Three Forks) has about 24 billion barrels recoverable oil
- The "original" Leigh Price paper, never published, estimated that there was 150 to 500 billion barrels of original oil in place (OOIP) in "the Bakken"
- the consensus, if there is such a thing, suggests that OOIP is probably nearer the lower end of Leigh Price's estimates
- the consensus, if there is such a thing, is that about 3% of OOIP is recoverable
- 3% of 100 billion bbls OOIP --> 3 billion bbls
- to some of us, it appears that operators are recovering about 8% of OOIP; if one accepts the middle of the Leigh Price estimate, let's say 300 billion barrels OOIP, then 8% of 300 --> 24 billion bbls of recoverable oil; one can argue only 6% is recoverable, but then take a higher Leigh Price estimate, say 400: 6% of 400 billion --> 24 billion bbls
For those interested in the Leigh Price paper:
- The Leigh Price paper
- My commentary regarding that paper, Part I
- My commentary regarding that paper, Part II
So, now, we've caught our breath. So far, we've been talking about only the middle Bakken and the upper Three Forks when we are talking about Harold Hamm's potential of 24 billion barrels of recoverable oil from "the Bakken." Hold that thought.
It turns out there may be additional payzones within the Three Forks formation/under the "upper" Three Forks that will affect these numbers. Continental Resources and others are referring to these "zones" or "sub-formations" that are part of the Bakken Pool, but deeper to the upper Three Forks as "benches. And to be clear: these "benches" are part of the Three Forks formation.
It's possible the "definition" of each of the "benches" has changed over time; Continental Resources has talked about these deeper benches for quite some time, and it's my impression that with the most recent CLR corporate presentation there is much more clarity.
Now would be a good time to pull up CLR's August 10, 2012, corporate presentation.
First, click here, a listing of recent CLR presentations.
Then, under Presentations, the very first presentation: Investor Update, August 13, 2012. It's a 3.0 MB PDF file and even on an old computer it seemed to load rather easily. It's dated August 10, 2012, so I assume the "August 13, 2012" date is the date it was posted on their presentation web page.
Go to slide 14.
The graphic will lay out the upper Bakken and lower Bakken shale (currently avoided for the most part), with the middle Bakken, between the upper and the lower Bakken shale.
Then, below the Bakken, one notes four yellow "sub-formations" or "zones" in yellow. These are the "benches" that folks are referring to. There are four benches: TF1, TF2, TF3, and TF4. (The "TF" stands for Three Forks.)
Generally speaking, when folks talk about nice wells in the Three Forks, they are talking about the "upper" Three Forks, which seems to correspond to TF1. My hunch is that not all operators are differentiating the various benches and I don't know if all "Three Forks" wells have been in the upper or first bench or if some have gone lower.
Continental Resources is in the process of testing these four benches in something they call their "Charlotte Unit." CLR is drilling four wells into four different zones -- they say they are the first operator to have wellbores in four different zones.
CLR refers to these four wells as "Charlotte" wells. So far, according to the NDIC GIS map, only two of these Charlotte wells have permit numbers; I don't see permit numbers for two of the others.
Charlotte 1 and Charlotte 2 are in the heart of the Bakken, in Banks oil field, in north central/northeast McKenzie County, just south of the river; again, I don't see Charlotte 3 and Charlotte 4 yet with permit numbers. [Just after posting this, a reader pointed out that permits for Charlotte 4-22H and Charlotte 5-22H were just issued. There are two Charlotte wells in Siverston field, but they are Newfield wells; so ignore. Update: August 30, 2012 -- #23664 for Charlotte 3.] So, here are the "Charlotte unit wells, the targeted "zone" and the location;
- 19918, 496, Charlotte 1-22H, middle Bakken, SWSE 22-152-99; Banks, 30 stages; 2.5 million lbs; t6/11; cum 150K 10/12; total depth: 21,090 feet;
- 23664, conf, Charlotte 3-22H, Banks, TF1, SESE 22-152N-99W
- 21128, 692, Charlotte 2-22H, Banks, TF2, SWSW 22-152-99; 30 stages; 2.3 million lbs; t10/11; cum 74K 10/12; total depth: 21,358 feet;
- 23612, A, Charlotte 4-22H, TF3, Banks, [Update: see press release, December 3, 2012]
- 23608, loc --> conf, Charlotte 5-22H, Banks, ?TF4
- 19918, Charlotte 1-22H, middle Bakken geologic marker: 11,276 feet;
- 21128, Charlotte 2-22H, TF2, Three Forks geologic marker: 11,273 feet;
So, stopping again, to catch our breath. It appears to me that two of the four Charlotte wells in section 22-152-99 have been drilled and were completed last summer and late fall. The middle Bakken well (Charlotte 1) was completed in June, 2011, and had produced more than 125,000 bbls one year later (June, 2012).
Results for Charlotte 2 are noted above.
Summary so far:
CLR is testing the hypothesis that in some areas of the Williston Basin, there are four, maybe five, payzones in the Bakken Pool (the middle Bakken, and three, maybe four, payzones in the Three Forks, which they call benches).
CLR has drilled into the middle Bakken ("everyone" does that) and into the "lower Three Forks"/"second bench" (TF2) (something new?). Both wells were highly successful.
They will next drill into TF1 (the "upper Three Forks) and TF3. To the best of my knowledge those permits have not been issued; at least they are not indicated on the GIS map server yet.
There is something else on slide 14 that is very, very interesting. One of the "concerns" or "complaints" about "the Bakken" is that it is not very thick. Seams are measured in tens of feet, whereas they say the Eagle Ford is measured in hundreds of feet (or so I believe). If CLR is correct that there are four payzones in the Three Forks (at least in some areas of the Williston Basin), then we start to see much thicker payzone overall -- in this case, on slide 14: 310 feet.
A "formation/pool" that is 310 feet thick is not trivial.
So, enough of that. What else does this mean? Are you holding that thought that I told you to hold some paragraphs above? Here it is again:
So far, we've been talking about only the middle Bakken and the upper Three Forks when we are talking about Harold Hamm's potential of 24 billion barrels of recoverable oil from "the Bakken."
When the USGS estimates there are 3 billion bbls of recoverable "Bakken" oil, the society is looking at only the middle Bakken and the upper Three Forks. Remember, CLR suggests that these two zones may have 24 billion bbls of recoverable oil.
The August 10, 2012, presentation has been significantly updated from previous presentations. I won't make you look at previous presentations, but in the past, CLR had a slide that showed in big, bold letters: 24 billion bbls of recoverable oil; and, then in small letters, marked with an asterisk, "lower zones should be additive."
In the August 10, 2012, CLR has a new slide, or at least is seems new to me: slide 12: expanding the Bakken vertically.
Remember Leigh Price's paper, upwards of 500 billion bbls of OOIP? There, on slide 12, the middle Bakken and the "1st bench" (upper Three Forks), 577 billion bbls of OOIP, and note the qualifier: "revised estimate."
The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th bench are estimated to have 326 billion bbls of OOIP.
577 + 326 = 903 billion bbls. For a thirty-second sound bite, that's a trillion bbls OOIP. In just the Bakken Pool.
Assuming 5% recovery, which I think is conservative for the "easy zones/core Bakken," one gets 45 billion bbls of recoverable oil.
Now, unless I'm missing something, CLR has just raised their estimates of recoverable oil from the Bakken Pool from 24 billion bbls to 45 billion bbls and are estimating the Bakken Pool to be just shy of a trillion bbls of OOIP. For all intents and purposes, CLR has doubled their estimate of recoverable oil from the Bakken Pool.
Time will tell. But I think slide 12 is new; and slide14 has been made clearer (compared with the August 8, 2011, corporate presentation, slide 9). The earlier slide 9 did not include the 310' marker for the Bakken Pool, again a number that is not trivial.
************************Earlier I said: As you go through this, remember, I often make mistakes, have no formal training in any of this, and am prone to misreading slides and presentations. But this is what I think I see in CLR's most recent corporate presentation. But if I am correct in what I think I see, and if CLR is even close to being accurate, it helps explain why QEP was willing to pay the price they did for the Helis et al acreage. That acreage is in the same general area, about 25 miles to the southeast (the "Helis Grail" is about 25 miles to the southeast of Banks oil field where the Charlotte wells are).
Again, unless I'm missing something or misinterpreting it, CLR has almost doubled Dr Price's original estimate of OOIP (by including lower benches which Dr Price was probably not aware of) and CLR has almost doubled their estimate of total recoverable oil.
The 30-second sound bite of a trillion-barrel reservoir, and 50 billion recoverable bbls seems about right.
I apologize ahead of time if I am "jumping the shark" on this.