Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR) continued to rapidly develop the company's large holdings in the Williston Basin in 2010, as it worked on the Bakken and Three Forks formations on its acreage in North Dakota and Wyoming. The company also initiated a position in another emerging shale play in the Rocky Mountains. (For an introduction to oil and gas, check out our Oil And Gas Industry Primer.)

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Williston Basin
Continental Resources is one of the largest acreage holders in the Williston Basin, with approximately 864,000 net acres under lease across North Dakota and Wyoming. The company ended 2010 operating 21 rigs in the play, where it is developing the Bakken and Three Forks formations.

Continental Resources has nearly doubled its production from the North Dakota Bakken during 2010, growing from an average of 8,384 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) per day during the fourth quarter of 2009 to 15,062 BOE per day in Q3 2010.

Oasis Petroleum (NYSE:OAS) also has acreage in the Williston Basin and is developing the Bakken and Three Forks formations on its properties. The company estimates that it had approximately 469 gross drilling locations as of the end of 2009.

Production Growth
Continental Resources estimates that its production grew by 15-17% in 2010. This growth will accelerate and is estimated to reach 30% in 2011. The company's goal is to triple production and reserves over the next five years.

Anadarko Woodford
Another area that Continental Resources worked to develop in 2010 was the Woodford Shale in the Anadarko Basin. The company likes this area because wells here have a high amount of liquid hydrocarbons that are produced along with the natural gas stream.

Continental Resources drilled the first set of wells from its ECO-Pad development in 2010. The company drilled four wells from a single pad, including two each into the middle Bakken and Three Forks. Continental Resources estimates that this type of drilling design will save the company 10% in drilling and completion costs, and it will also reduce the surface disturbance of development.

Niobrara Shale
During 2010, Continental Resources entered another emerging area through a position in the Niobrara in Colorado and Wyoming. The company has approximately 73,000 net acres in this play, and it spud its first well here in Q4 2010.

Other companies in the Niobrara Shale include Carrizo Oil and Gas (Nasdaq:CRZO), which has 59,000 net acres under lease. The company is currently working on its first wells here. EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) kicked up interest in the Niobrara with a successful well announced earlier in 2010. The company has approximately 400,000 net acres under lease here.

Bottom Line
In 2010, Continental Resources advanced its oil and gas development program in the Williston Basin, where the company is working on the Bakken and Three Forks formations. The company also exploited its holdings in the Anadarko Woodford during 2010, and it opened up another front to develop in the Niobrara Shale.

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