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Msg  1763 of 258191  at  10/5/2006 8:56:14 AM  by


Marathon Oil to Drill Up to 300 New Wells (Bakken)

(The play is working in Canada, and since te prise in the US is billions of barrels, I suspect that they will figure out how to make the US play work. Both BBG and BRy have positions their, but both are going slowly.)

Marathon Oil to Drill Up to 300 New Wells
Friday September 29, 10:27 am ET
By Dale Wetzel, Associated Press Writer
Marathon Oil Exec Says Falling Prices Won't Curb Drilling in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- Marathon Oil Corp.'s plans to drill as many as 300 new wells in western North Dakota within five years haven't been affected by a recent oil price slump, a top executive says.
The Houston-based multinational formally opened an office in Dickinson on Thursday to oversee its recently acquired rights to drill, which cover 200,000 acres in Billings, Divide, Dunn, McKenzie, Mountrail and Williams counties.


The office will employ about 25 people, said Steven Guidry, a Marathon regional vice president. There will be another 25 operations personnel in the field, and as many as eight oil rigs, each responsible for about 125 jobs, he said.

"All total, this represents just short of a thousand jobs created as a result of our decision to move into North Dakota," he said in remarks to the North Dakota Petroleum Council's annual meeting on Thursday.

Ron Ness, the council's president, said Marathon's plans represent a $1.5 billion investment in the state over five years.

Guidry said he was confident the company can unlock oil from the "middle Bakken" formation, which has oil-producing rock between layers of shale about 10,000 feet under the ground.

The middle Bakken has proven lucrative for drillers in eastern Montana, but the formation beneath North Dakota has been harder to solve.

Marathon announced its lease acquisitions in April, and it already has two producing wells, Guidry said. They are located in northern Dunn County.

Oil prices have been declining recently from a high of near $80 a barrel in mid-July. On Thursday, they were hovering around $63.

Guidry said the company's planning included assumptions that the price would range between $35 and $50 a barrel.

"We're positioned right now in about the worst set of circumstances, with softening (oil) prices and higher (drilling) costs," he said. "But we will prevail. It is something that we are accustomed to managing, and we will succeed here."

Marathon's wells will typically be drilled to a depth of about 10,000 feet. The drilling then pivots, moving laterally for another 10,000 feet. The industry describes the procedure as a horizontal well. It is costly.

"We're having to drill four miles, basically, into the earth in order to develop one well," Guidry said in an interview. "The cost associated with horizontal drilling is really what makes the Bakken shale development a high-cost execution issue."

Ness said Marathon's expertise could be the key to providing another boost to North Dakota's oil production.

"They bring a whole new set of resources," Ness said. "The technology on the North Dakota side of the border related to the Bakken really has not worked out all that well yet ... Having (Marathon) in the basin, actively pursuing the Bakken, is extremely important to the development and success of the Bakken."

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