Oilfield activity in the Williston Basin continues to play an important role in the earnings and operations of many companies, some with worldwide presence.
In the midst of yet another step into the national media spotlight precipitated by a visit from presidential candidate Rick Santorum, several companies have released or are releasing their financial numbers for the fourth quarter of 2011. And not surprisingly, activity in the Bakken plays a prominent role in their reports. Transcripts from several earnings-related calls were viewed on oil industry blog Seeking Alpha.
Halliburton CEO David J. Lesar said the company has been affected by cost inflation and "seasonal impacts."
"As you know, the Rockies and the Bakken are two areas where we have a particularly high market share, and both markets experienced some seasonal impacts yielding inefficiencies, particularly with our commuter crews," Lesar said.
Logistical problems and proppant disruptions also factored in.
Halliburton is also redeploying eight hydraulic fracturing fleets, diverting them from natural gas exploration to liquids.
"This requires redeployment of people and equipment. It disrupts a very efficient operation, and as well, it is requiring us to make adjustments to our supply chain," Lesar said. "So we believe that these pressures that come from this on revenues and margins will be limited."
Despite any negative impacts felt during the fourth quarter, Lesar reported that 2011 set records for revenue and operating income.
Meanwhile, longtime Bakken presence Continental Resources reported a "great" fourth quarter.
"Continental's fourth quarter was strong as it pushed full year of 2011 production to 22.6 million barrels of oil estimated (MMBoe) versus Continental's estimate of 22.3 MMBoe," said Continental CEO Harold Hamm in a news release.
"Two years ago we announced a five-year plan to triple production and proved reserves by year-end 2014," Hamm said. "Since December 2009, we've already doubled production.
"We're clearly ahead of plan due to better well performance and increased operating efficiency."
"These numbers are great, but what has driven production growth? It would seem Continental has got a good grip on completions work," Seeking Alpha says. "Continental had recently announced it would increase its average number of stages from 24 1/2 to 30. This has helped significantly."
Impacts from the Bakken are also being felt overseas, especially following the acquisition of Brigham Exploration by Norwegian petroleum giant Statoil, which was announced around the same time as the 2011 Norsk Hostfest in Minot.
Statoil CEO Helge Lund complimented Brigham by referring to it as a "very strong" organization.
"I believe that we have positioned ourselves in a very strong portfolio in the U.S. in terms of cost competitiveness and also by building a portfolio that has a good balance between gas, liquid products and also pure oil as we're doing in the Bakken area," Lund said. With the "attractive" market for oil, Lund said Statoil will be looking to "ramp up" the Bakken portion of its portfolio.