New oil well shows promise

North Dakota State Roundup

Published January 1, 1994  | January 1994 issue

When Conoco Inc. began drilling a new oil well last spring into a formation thought to have little potential for oil production, the results surprised everyone.

The well is located in an existing Conoco production unit near Dickinson in Stark County, ranked ninth of 16 oil-producing counties in the state. And it turned out to be a strong producer, generating more than 1,700 barrels of oil per day, nearly nine times the average for North Dakota's 4,000 active wells. The well has already increased Stark County's oil tax revenues by 10 percent over 1992.

But it is too early to assume that this success means North Dakota will experience another oil boom similar to that of the late 1970s, according to Lowell Ridgeway, executive director of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, and other industry sources. "Total drilling is down," Ridgeway says, "and there are fewer rigs than a year ago." And he notes, "Despite the good news for Dickinson, our production is still declining in the state."

Conoco has drilled three other wells into the same formation, two of which are reportedly good producers, although exact figures are not available.

Although overall production and drilling have not increased as a result of the new strike, there may be some response soon. "There is a lot of leasing going on," Ridgeway says. And oil industry officials predict that more wells will be drilled.

Edward Lotterman