Although the exploration and production industry is focused mostly on developing the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, the industry is starting to expand development activity into Montana. This scale of activity is nowhere close to the amount of development in North Dakota, but is a logical expansion given the competition for acreage in North Dakota.

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The Players
Oasis Petroleum (NYSE:OAS) went public in June 2010 and is focused on developing oil properties in the Williston Basin. The company has close to 300,000 net acres prospective for both the Bakken and Three Forks formations. Although most of its acreage is in North Dakota, the company has leases in Montana in Roosevelt and Richland Counties.

Most of the company's activity here has been on a non-operated basis, but Oasis Petroleum is expanding its Montana development and will be more active in 2011 on its own.

Rosetta Resources (Nasdaq:ROSE) is also active in developing the Bakken and only has properties in Montana. The company has 291,000 net acres in the Southern Alberta Basin and has drilled three wells to date to delineate the play. Rosetta Resources plans to drill eight vertical wells through the first six months of 2011 to set up for a more extensive horizontal drilling program later on.

Brigham Exploration Company (Nasdaq:BEXP) has 112,300 net acres that are prospective for the Bakken in Montana. The company is currently focusing its development efforts at the Ghost Rider project in Roosevelt County.

In August 2010, Brigham Exploration Company announced the completion results of the Rogney well in Montana, which produced at a 24 hour peak flow back rate of 909 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). The company plans another well here in the fourth quarter of 2010.

EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) also has acreage prospective for the Bakken in Montana. The company completed the Carat 2-33H well in April 2010, and reported to the Montana Oil and Gas Commission that the well had an initial production rate of 264 barrels per day of oil and 150,000 cubic feet per day of natural gas.

Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR) added approximately 63,000 net acres to its holdings in Montana that are prospective for the Bakken Shale. The company estimates that it will spend $55 million in capital in 2010, and recently added a second rig to work here. Continental Resources reported average production of 5,196 BOE per day from the Montana Bakken, and has 11% of its proved reserves here at the end of 2009.

Bottom Line
Montana is seeing more activity in the Bakken Shale as the development of this promising play is starting to break out of its core area in North Dakota. This may be the result of intense competition for leases in the core areas of North Dakota. (To learn more, see our Oil And Gas Industry Primer.)

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Tickers in this Article: OAS, ROSE, BEXP, EOG, CLR

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