How Quickly Will Bakken Oil Production Decline? Much Faster Than Americans Realize

What goes up, must come down. And, this is most certainly true for the mighty North Dakota Bakken… the second-largest shale oil-producing region in the United States. Even after the global contagion fades away, the North Dakota Bakken has likely reached peak production.

According to a new chart by Jean Laherrere, from his recent work titled, Negative WTI on 20 April 2020: an accident or a trend?, the estimated oil production decline at the North Dakota Bakken will destroy the notion of U.S. Energy Independence, once and for all. Here is Laherrere’s chart showing the ultimate recovery of 5.5 billion barrels from the North Dakota Bakken, and what that would like on the downside of the decline slope:

(Click on image to enlarge)

This chart is easy to understand. The RED LINE shows the total “Cumulative Production,” while the solid GREEN LINE displays the actual production, and the dashed GREEN LINE is the estimated decline.I took Jean’s chart and provided my estimated figures for 2023, 2025, and 2030:

(Click on image to enlarge)

The monthly peak of North Dakota Bakken oil production was approximately, 1.45 million barrels per day. It is shown as 1,450 kb/d in the chart or 1,000 barrels per day. Lahererre’s calculations show that N.D. Bakken oil production will fall to 850 kb/d by 2023, 450 kb/d by 2025, and only 80 kb/d by 2020. Thus, according to these figures, the Bakken will lose nearly 70% of its production within five years and 94% by 2030.

The actual decline of Bakken oil production could be more rapid or slower than shown in the chart above. But, I doubt the range will differ all that much compared to the estimates provided by Laherrere.

Furthermore, as I have stated, many of the Bakken producers have already gone through most of their available drilling acreage. For example, Whiting Petroleum, the third-largest producer in the Bakken, had 258,660 undeveloped acres in the region in 2012. Now, compare that to the remaining 41,302 undeveloped acres published in their 2019 Annual Report. That is an 84% decline in available undeveloped Bakken acreage.

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