Thousands of wells are shut down in North Dakota


North Dakota’s newly created Bakken Restart Task Force reports 6,800 wells have been shut-in since the start of the pandemic and the oil crisis caused by Russia and Saudi Arabia’s dumping of crude oil on the world market.

It’s a simple number—6,800 but consider the cost of restarting those wells when the time comes. And it will come. It costs an average of $25,000 to $50,000 to return a well to production. The Task Force estimates that the state is looking at $155 to $310 million in funding needed for operators to bring the wells back to production of crude oil.

The Task Force web site shows 450,000 barrels a day of crude production still in the state with only 27 rigs in operation and only 5 frac crews.

But frac supply contracts have been cancelled through the rest of the year.

The number of abandoned wells has grown to 810 and the task force says as a result of the thousands of wells suspended, commercial well water produced water volumes are “significantly decreased.”

At least 202 abandoned wells could be justified for returning to production leaving the rest to be reviewed as candidates to be plugged and reclaimed. The average cost to plug and reclaim a well in North Dakota is $150,000.

As a result of the COVID-19 impact and the oil price war, North Dakota is considering the suspension of all fees but the $10,000 filing fee at the Public Service Commission. The state’s Oil and Gas Division is also giving consideration to suspension of various fees as temporary abandoned renewal, case continuance and applications for permit to drill renewal fees.

Oklahoma regulators do not have available numbers on the amount of shutin wells and operators are not required to report such actions.

Source: Task Force