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Whiting Increases Capex, Shale Presence

August 6, 2012
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Officials with Whiting Petroleum Corp. said the company is poised to meet its production guidance for the year, with increased drilling in emerging shale plays and a slight increase in capital expenditures (capex).

In a 2Q2012 earnings call on July 26, James Volker, CEO of Whiting Oil & Gas Corp., said production increased 26% from the same quarter one year prior, and replaced 4,500 boe/d spun off by the formation of Whiting USA Trust II, an initial public offering (IPO) that went public in March.

"Including those volumes in our second quarter production would have equated to a 33% production increase year-over-year," Volker said, adding that the company planned to drill 257 gross (160 net) wells in 2012 in its core areas. "We continue to execute on our drilling program and have increased our guidance for the third time this year to a range of 20% to 23% production growth year-over-year."

Volker said the company was "modestly" increasing its capex for 2012 -- from $1.8 to $1.9 billion -- with $50 million devoted to recompletions and capitalized workovers, $46 million to two enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects in Oklahoma and Texas, and $27 million for nonoperated drilling.

As of June 30, Volker said Whiting has acquired an additional 4,000 net acres for its Missouri Breaks prospect -- which spans Montana and North Dakota in the Williston Basin -- and now holds approximately 90,000 gross (62,000 net) acres there. He said the company has drilled and completed three wells in the western part of the prospect, with estimate ultimate recoveries (EUR) of between 300,000 and 400,000 boe per well.

Whiting controls more than 112,000 net acres in the Williston Basin, up more than 10,500 net acres from 1Q2012.

Just south of Missouri Breaks, Volker said Whiting has identified more than 50 vertical potential drilling sites at its Big Island prospect, which also straddles Montana and North Dakota, in the Red River play. The CEO said EUR from the Big Island wells would be between 200,000 and 300,000 boe per well. Mark Williams, senior vice president for exploration and development, said wells drilled at Red River would be vertical, would not require hydraulic fracturing, and would cost between $3 million and $3.5 million to drill and complete.

Volker said a third prospect in North Dakota, Sanish/Parshall, is home to the company's new Drill Wells on Paper (DWOP) program, which the CEO said has saved and estimated $2 million per well.

"Sanish Field is the gift that keeps on giving," Volker said, adding that DWOP combined with white sand and sliding sleeve completions, and improvements in pad drilling and fracture stimulation "enable us to drill and complete our Williston Basin wells for approximately $7 million [per well]." During the question-and-answer session, Volker said a standalone well would cost $500,000.

Whiting reported 2Q2012 adjusted net income available to common shareholders of $86.8 million (73 cents/diluted share), down from $120.3 million ($1.02/diluted share) in 2Q2011. Net production totaled 80.7 Mboe/d.

In May, Bitter Creek Pipelines LLC, a subsidiary of MDU Resources Group. Inc., paid $66 million for a 50% stake in Whiting Oil & Gas' natural gas and midstream assets in the Bakken Shale.

According to company reports analyzed by NGI, Whiting Petroleum has the third-highest net acreage position in the Bakken at 701,751 acres (see Shale Daily, June 15), trailing only Continental Resources Inc. (938,940) and Hess Corp. (900,000).

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