As Continental Resources brings more of its Williston Basin wells back on line, it was surprised to learn that production had sharply increased in Montana after two months of wells being shut in, reported Oil Patch Hotline.

“We turned it back on and the production was double of what it was before we shut it in,” said CEO William Berry. The company said it would bring most of the curtailed Bakken wells back on line by the end of this month. Continental led the early exploration of the Elm Coulee Field in eastern Montana in 2008 and now holds leases on 1.1 million acres there.

“This is a very low permeability reservoir, and you give it time to shut-in, you start seeing it— the reservoir basically recharged the stimulated rock volume area we’ve got around the wells” said President Jack Stark. “And so the fact is, there’s a lot of oil out here.”

Stark and other industry representatives say they expect North Dakota oil production is expected to return to record levels this summer, but they say the resurgence will be slow and steady.

Technology advancements are driving the increase in activity rather than the price of oil, Jack Stark is reported as saying in the Bismarck Tribune.

“This year, there’s no doubt that the Bakken is performing better than ever,” he said. “The rock hasn’t changed. It’s all happened through technology.”

Continental, North Dakota’s top oil producer, only recovered about 3 to 5 percent of the oil early in its Bakken operations. Now, said Stark the company recovers 15 to 20 percent of the oil, with efforts underway to continue increasing that.

As the re-charging of Montana wells indicate, “We’re leaving a lot down there,” said Thomas Nusz, chairman and CEO of Oasis Petroleum.

Erec Isaacson, vice president of Rockies Business Unit for ConocoPhillips, said $65 oil is the new $100 oil, thanks to innovations the industry developed during the downturn.


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