The Oil in North Dakota: Drilling Rig Activity


The Awesome Media Silence

With President Obama leading the charge for so-called clean, green energy while attempting to scuttle our nation’s oil and gas production at every possible turn, we hear next to nothing about sucessful drilling operations. Not in the country’s blamestream media, we don’t. The last thing the enemy within wants is to see us become energy independent via traditional, petroleum driven methods.

Yet it’s happening. In western North Dakota, where the proven Bakken formation alone could get the job done for all of us, were it to be fully developed, We the People are extracting–and/or preparing to extract– “black gold” from the Bakken at an ever-increasing rate. The drillling rigs aren’t finding many dry holes, either.

Progressive Democrats are thus being quietly stymied–whether most of them know it or not–by good ol’ American ingenuity, entrepeneurship, and hard work. Roughnecks, tool pushers, drillers, mud engineers, derrick hands, deck hands, worms, company hands, and more–Third Generation Oilfield Trash is bringing home the bacon. Jobs in North Dakota, as with any oil boom, are plentiful. Last time I checked, the unemployment rate in that state was running around three percent.

As Sarah Palin has said, “Drill, baby, drill!”

"Drill, baby, drill!"

“Drill, baby, drill!”

To those outside of the industry, truly understanding what makes oil extraction go ’round and ’round is about as confusing as I found college calculus to be. Give ’em a nice, simple chart any insider would grasp at a glance, and it hits the brainpans as garbled gibberish, something like this:

Current Active Drilling Rig List

Rig Operator Well Name and Number Current Location County File No Start Date ** Next LocationPIONEER 3 WHITING OIL AND GAS CORP ODERMANN 41-31TFH NENE 31-142N-101W BIL 19135 * MIRU UndeterminedPATTERSON 183 CONTINENTAL RESOURCES HAAG 1X-21H SESW 21-144N-99W BIL 19875 11/2/2010 UndeterminedNABR WELL 164 BERENERGY CORP GLENBURN NORTH MADISON UNIT 36-1H NENE 36-159N-82W BOT….

(To make sense out of that mess, just click on the link.)

Ramping Up

How rapidly has North Dakota drilling activity been increasing? To answer that question, here are a few dated headlines from the Bismarck Tribune:

Over 40 rigs drilling in N.D. oil patch

ARTICLE: WILLISTON (AP) – More than 40 rigs are drilling for oil in North Dakota, the state Department of Mineral Resources reports. December 6, 2006.

Number of oil rigs reaches 50

ARTICLE: MINOT (AP) – The number of operating oil rigs in North Dakota has hit 50, the highest number in nearly a quarter century. October 10, 2007.

About 80 rigs drilling for oil in N.D.

ARTICLE: North Dakota’s oil boom is continuing, with about active 80 rigs now reported drilling for oil. August 7, 2008.

Now, let’s fast forward to today, November 14, 2010…when we find (according to North Dakota’s official Dept. of Mineral Resources page on the subject), that there are now 157 rigs drilling for oil in the state.

Roughly speaking, that means a doubling of drilling activity every two years since 2006. Folks, energy companies don’t ramp up an oil boom like that for the sheer fun of it; they do it because they’re making money at it. Which means they’re finding oil and lots of it. The heck with OzBama and his Zombies; we’ve already started down the road to energy independence without them.

Drill, baby, drill!! The man in the White House must feel like he’s getting a root canal without any Novocain every time he hears that mantra…and I’m willing to bet a drill bit to a worn-out muck boot that after the states of Alaska, Arizona, and Louisiana, he hates North Dakota the most.

Now, just to leave this page open, update it every now and then, let’s set up a little chart…shall we?


December 6, 2006: 40………….October 10, 2007: 50

August 7, 2008: 80………..November 14, 2010: 157

November 26, 2010: 163……….December 3, 2010: 164

December 10, 2010: 166………..March 25, 2011: 171

April 22, 2011: 175…………August 28, 2011: 199

Update: October 11, 2013. It’s been a couple of years since we checked the drilling list. Today’s number shows: 184.

January 24, 2015: 157. The price war (you may have noticed lower fuel prices at the pump) is being felt in the Bakken; they’re starting to stack ’em out. (“Stacking a rig” is what energy companies do during those times when the price of oil is not high enough to make drilling profitable. They pile the iron at a storage location, lay off the workers, and wait for better times.)

August 9, 2015: 73. For now, North Dakota is not likely to be the place to go if you’re looking for a job. Not with a drop of 84 actively drilling rigs since January 24, it’s not. When might one expect that to change? Well…I’m no prophet, but let’s take a flying guess. How about sometime in 2017?

Why? Because we might (hopefully) elect a U.S. President with a clue in 2016. Presently, shale oil operators are forbidden to sell their product outside of the USA, denying them the international market and artificially depressing North Dakota oil prices. That single change (allowing exportation) would change the overall Bakken economic picture in a heartbeat.

Will it happen? As always, we shall see.

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