Denver-based Whiting Petroleum Corp. said Friday it has entered a joint venture (JV) wellbore participation agreement with a private party for 44 of its wells spread across its extensive Williston Basin acreage.
The JV gives the private party a 50% working interest in the wells for agreeing to pay 65% of their drilling/completion costs. The deal includes payment to Whiting of $30.7 million in cash to cover the Bakken exploration and production company’s costs incurred since the start of the year to the time of signing April 14 on wells already in progress, Whiting CEO Jim Volker said on a quarterly earnings conference call.
Under the deal, Whiting will continue running two drilling rigs and will add a completion crew. The JV will allow Whiting to add production and proved reserves this year without increasing its capital expenditures, Volker said.
"We're obviously getting a 50% working interest and paying only 35% of the costs," Volker said. "That is what brings the opportunity to the forefront and makes you want to do it."
He said a second choice is to start completing the rising number of drilled but uncompleted (DUC) wells being held by the company. "That will begin to happen more as prices begin to increase."
Volker said as a result of the recent market increase in oil prices the rates of return on some of Whiting DUCs now will be higher because of the roughly $10/bbl price increase from the recent market upswing.
"So when we complete them at a time when oil prices are higher that outweighs the negative in the IRR [internal rate of return] calculation in having spent the drilling costs without revenue," he said. "In this instance, when you start the revenue, it comes in at a higher price, so in this instance it is to our benefit."
The 44 wells in the JV are part of Whiting's overall drilling program for the year, and so the timeline for these wells will follow previous plans for completing all of them by the end of the year, Volker said.
"We took into consideration the production of those  wells in our production guidance for this year," he said. "But it is correct to assume there will be a bigger effect on 2017 production [after they are all completed]."
For 1Q2016, Whiting reported a net loss of $171.7 million (minus 84 cents/share), compared to a loss of $106.1 million (minus 63 cents) for the same period last year.