Continental Resources' Bakken production averaged nearly 108,000 b/d of oil equivalent in the third quarter of 2016, down 14% or more than 17,000 boe/d from the previous quarter, but the Oklahoma City-based producer plans to boost production in its North Dakota and Montana plays before the end of the year.
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"We've begun harvesting our valuable Bakken inventories," Harold Hamm, Continental's chairman and CEO, said during an earnings call Thursday.
Continental plans to complete 29 gross operated wells in the Bakken, nine more than it planned at the end of Q2, and will double its stimulation crews in the play to four by the end of the year, the company said Thursday.
Continental plans to stimulate another 15 Bakken wells this year, but first sales are not expected until 2017. It expects to end the year with about 175 gross operated uncompleted wells in the Bakken.
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Hamm said the focus was entirely on completing wells in that inventory and said his company would not be adding any new rigs. Continental currently operates four rigs in the Bakken.
Continental expects Bakken production to average over 124,100 boe/d this year, down from nearly 137,400 boe/d in 2015.
Continental's announced plans for the Bakken come as North Dakota has seen its oil production dip below 1 million b/d for the first time since March 2014. The drop in supply came as producers like Continental restricted production amid persistently low crude oil prices.
North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources reported last month that statewide oil production averaged 981,039 b/d in August, down 49,000 from July. The state agency plans to announce September production statistics next week.
In its Q3 results, Continental said it had curtailed Bakken production by about 12,000 net boe/d during August and September "due to lower commodity prices," but said production was brought back online by the end of the quarter.
Continental's total production averaged nearly 208,000 boe/d, down from about 219,000 boe/d in Q2 and 228,000 boe/d in Q3 2015. Continental expects production will average 215,000-220,000 boe/d this year, up 5,000 boe/d from last quarter's low-end guidance and up 15,000-20,000 boe/d from guidance at the beginning of the year.
Production guidance has increased as the company said production expenses had dropped 25 cents to $3.50-$4/boe and the company raised anticipated capital expenditures for 2016 from $920 million, which it said in August it expected to spend this year, to $1.1 billion.
Continental said production in its SCOOP play averaged over 67,400 boe/d in Q3, up from nearly 64,700 boe/d in Q2 and down from more than 69,100 boe/d in Q3 2015.
Production in Continental's STACK/Northwest Cana play climbed to nearly 17,700 boe/d in Q3, up from more than 14,600 boe/d in Q2 and more than 6,600 boe/d in Q3 2015.
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