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Whiting Petroleum: The Diverter Technology Driving Big Gains In Well Performance

Whiting highlighted more than two-fold improvement in early-time well productivity due to the use of diverters.

The company further enhanced its completion formulas, with more proppant used and higher-quality fracture networks created in stimulations.

The company indicates that its enhanced completions are tracking along the 900 Boe EUR curve, a major gain.

Important note: This article is not an investment recommendation and should not to be relied upon when making investment decisions - investors should conduct their own comprehensive research. Please read the disclaimer at the end of this article.

Enhanced completions continue to yield well productivity improvements in shale oil plays. Whiting Petroleum's (NYSE:WLL) latest operational update provides another set of evidence with regard to this powerful trend. In its May presentation, the company discusses comparative performance for its recent wells that used modified completion designs versus older wells. Given the size of the sample - which includes nearly 50 wells - and the magnitude of the production gain, Whiting's well results are worth a closer review.

While any completion formula includes multiple variables, the most notable observation is the company's strongly positive feedback with regard to the use of the diverter technology.

Higher-Intensity Completions

Over the past two years, Whiting took significant strides to optimize its completion designs both in the Bakken and Niobrara. In the Bakken, the company doubled its proppant loadings per completion in 2015, from ~3 million pounds per well at the beginning of the year to ~6 million pounds per well towards the end of the year. The latest significant change occurred in late 2015 when Whiting further increased proppant loadings and started using diverting agents as a tool to improve proppant distribution along the wellbore.

According to the company, sand volumes in its Bakken wells completed in 2016 have ranged between 6 million pounds and 9 million pounds per well. As early-time production history for the most recent generation of completions accumulates, one can make preliminary judgment with regard to the results. According to Whiting, the performance gain is quite significant.

Importantly, despite the much larger frac jobs, Whiting's average completed well cost in the Williston remains only $6.8 million per well (of note, Whiting did not specify whether this includes the cost of artificial lift and production facilities).

The Wells Tracking Along The 900 MBoe Curve In The Williston

The following slide shows the performance of all of Whiting's enhanced completion wells put on production since the beginning of 2015. Included in the sample are 47 completions with over 5 million pounds of sand per well and at least 120 days of production history. Given the...