For a second consecutive year, the vibrant history of North Dakota’s oil and natural gas drilling has been replicated in a large illustrated map indicating all 3,461 wells in the Bakken and Three Forks formation at the end of 2011. The map was jointly published by the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) and Energy/Environmental Research Center.

An electronic version of the map is expected to be available on the petroleum council’s website ( later this month, an NDPC spokesperson told NGI’s Shale Daily. Hard copies are being given to more than 4,000 individuals and organizations that participated in Williston Basin Petroleum Council meetings last month.

The NDPC said a colored dot represents every well drilled in the Bakken/Three Forks formation during the past two decades, including those drilled before horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing led to the unconventional drilling boom that has made North Dakota the nation’s second biggest oil producing state (see Shale Daily, May 17).

Although the map may give the impression that the area is saturated with wells, there have been an estimated 1,000 more drilled since the beginning of this year, the NDPC said. The research center’s John Harju told the Bismarck Tribune that typical Bakken spacing is 1,280 acres/well, allowing nearly two miles of space between wells, although the map does not capture that reality.

Harju and NDPC Director Ron Ness stressed in a report earlier this month that one of the main values of the map is to illustrate the perimeters of the formation and outline the landscape of the northwestern quarter of the state. A marked difference in the latest map, compared with a similar one published last year is more drilling in Williams and McKenzier counties. This year’s map also has a graphic that illustrates oil production growth.

An additional 2,000 wells are expected to be drilled in the state this year, according to Ness. The map data is based on information compiled by the state Department of Mineral Resources, which keeps drilling statistics transparent to encourage development.