ENID — Reason for growth
The company’s production growth is being driven by two reservoirs, or plays: the Bakken and Anadarko Woodford.
The Bakken, Hamm said recently during a speech in Montana, is the largest oil field discovered in the world in the last 40 years. At present, some 2,100 wells are being drilled in the Bakken every year.
The Bakken, which also includes the Three Forks reservoir, covers 14,700 square miles spanning northeastern Montana and northwestern North Dakota.
The Anadarko Woodford is in Grady and Blaine counties in western Oklahoma.
“The Bakken is a world-class oil play,” said Hart. “We’ve got a decade-plus drilling in that play.”
Continental was one of the first companies to explore the Bakken and is currently the largest acreage holder in the area, some 915,863 acres as of the end of 2011.
“The Bakken has had production for 50 years,” Hart said. “We were on the forefront of the usage of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the play. Technology really unlocked that play.”
History and future of growth
Continental’s first move into the northern U.S. came in the late 1980s when the company began drilling in the Cedar Hills play in the northern Rockies in North Dakota.
“We’ve been up there for a long time and had some very good results, obviously,” Hart said. “Currently we’re the largest acreage holder in the Bakken, and we’re expanding that, and we also have the largest number of drilling rigs operating.”
Continental expects to be operating in the Bakken and Three Forks region for a long time, Hart said.
“There are decades of production in the Bakken,” he said. “We’ve got thousands of wells left to drill.”
Technology of growth
Continental’s website compares horizontal drilling to “sinking a jump shot four miles away.”
Continental can drill two miles down, then two miles sideways, to reach an oil reservoir the size of a basketball hoop.
Fracturing, or fracking, is the somewhat controversial practice of using high pressure water and sand to crack a formation deep underground, fracturing the rock and allowing oil and natural gas to flow through pipes up to the surface.
Another bit of new technology, ECO-Pad, allows Continental to drill four wells from a single drilling pad. The benefits not only are economic but environmental.
“That’s sensitive to the land in that we’re only having to build one road, we’re only having to set up one pad location,” Hart said. “We get in and we develop that area quickly and move down the highway a few miles and do it again.
“It limits truck traffic and limits disturbance to the land. It’s cost-effective for the company.”
ECO-Pad wells are about 10 percent less expensive to drill and complete than single wells, Hart said.
“It’s just a good, efficient way to develop,” he said.