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Statoil to Resume Bakken Fracking Amid 10% Production Drop

Senior executives at Norway's Statoil ASA, the fifth largest Bakken Shale producer, on Thursday said the company's production has dropped about 10% in North Dakota, but it plans to reactivate some hydraulic fracturing (fracking) crews there.

The offshore-focused company reported 1Q2016 adjusted earnings of $857 million (22 cents/share), compared to a $3.3 billion loss for the same period in 2015, but it does not break out results for specific Bakken or other U.S. onshore operations (Eagle Ford and Marcellus).

In response to analysts' questions, CFO Hans Jakob Hegge gave the broad results and plans for the company's 355,000 net acres in the Bakken play. U.S. oil production comprises less than a third of Statoil's total equity production of more than 550,000 b/d as of mid-2015.

Hegge said Statoil was down to one rig and no well completions during 1Q2016 in the Bakken. "Having said that, we are bringing in our frack crew to the Bakken area, so we expect the team to do some completions going forward," he said.

Hegge also told analysts that the quarter-over-quarter declines in production are "not representative" of what you can expect going forward. "The beauty of the onshore business is the flexibility it has," he said, downplaying recent quarter-over-quarter declines.

"Going forward with increasing prices, you should expect a higher activity level [from us], including in the Bakken."

Last year Statoil showed Bakken production in the 50,000 b/d range at a time when its average price for its non-North Sea international production was bringing in $87.40/bbl.

After first moving to the U.S. onshore in the Eagle Ford and Marcellus shales, Statoil five years ago made a multi-billion-dollar acquisition of Austin, TX-based independent Brigham Exploration Co., giving it initial access to the Williston Basin's Bakken and Three Forks shale formations (see Shale DailyNov. 11, 2011).

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