MDU Resources Group Inc.'s Fidelity Exploration & Production Co. has set a new Bakken Shale production record of 3,500 net boe/d from its operated wells. Including nonoperated wells, production exceeds 5,000 net boe/d, the company said Monday.

"We are on our way to reaching our goal of increasing oil production by 20% to 30% this year over 2011, with plans to invest $400 million in this business this year," said MDU Resources CEO Terry Hildestad.

Last month the company said it would jettison some dry gas assets and step up oil production in the Bakken and other plays (see Shale Daily, Feb. 7). A recent tally showed that Fidelity is among the top 20 acreage holders in the Bakken (see Shale Daily, Feb. 6).

Results of recent Bakken wells "are very encouraging as their average 30-day rate represents a 44% improvement over all previous wells drilled by Fidelity," the company said. "Additionally, the drilling operations continue to improve with the most recent long-lateral horizontal well, the Lance 21-22-27, being drilled in a record 28 days from spud to rig release."

In Stark County, ND, Fidelity is drilling its first two long-lateral Three Forks wells and has seen "very encouraging" shows on both wells, it said. Two offsetting wells to this acreage block were drilled by another operator and have initial 24-hour initial production (IP) rates of 2,694 and 2,171 gross boe/d. Additionally, a short-lateral well was drilled by Fidelity on its far-eastern block to delineate the productive limits of the field; its 24-hour IP rate was 115 gross boe/d. Based on these results, the company said it plans to have a two-rig program focused on its core central acreage block, with the second rig arriving in March.

The company also recently acquired an additional 27,000 acres of leaseholds in Richland County, MT. Fidelity now holds about 57,000 net leasehold acres in Richland County, all acquired in the past year. "This acreage position is a contiguous block immediately adjacent to the prolific Elm Coulee field," it said. The company has spud its first of two appraisal wells. Depending upon results, a continuous drilling program utilizing one to two rigs is being planned.

"We now have the acreage, drilling rigs and services as well as the organizational capability and experience to sustainably grow our Bakken production," said Fidelity CEO Kent Wells. "Our systematic approach of appraising and continuously improving our drilling and production operations is starting to pay dividends, and we have only just begun."

With the latest acreage acquisition, Fidelity holds about 124,000 net leasehold acres in the Bakken area with plans to invest $160 million in the region this year. "We will continue to expand our Bakken program as the results dictate," Wells said.