After recently receiving approval for establishing numerous drilling units in the area, Whiting Pet. has wasted little time announcing exploration plans targeting the Three Forks Formation ("TF") in NW Stark Co., near the town of Belfield. In the past week, Whiting has permitted two TF wildcats, one in a standup 1280 in secs. 13 & 24, T140, R99, about four miles NE of Belfield. Another test is apparently planned six miles directly west in the same township.
The second permit is in a laydown 1280 about a mile south of Belfield in secs. 8 & 9, T139, R99. This is the only laydown configured unit in the area, apparently established in this manner because the city of Belield lies in the two adjoining sections to the north. Both wells are configured with a NW/SE trending lateral.
These significant tests are about twenty miles SE of where Whiting has had good success in exploiting the TF in their Lewis and Clark Prospect in the limited number of wells drilled, of which the current projects appear to be an extension. This area is near the southern depositional edge of the Bakken shales, where the lower shale is virtually nonexistent and the upper shale is very thin. Whiting plans to set the lateral about 20 ft. below the top of the TF, and the top of the TF lies appx. 15 below the top of the upper Bakken Shale.
Though Continential and others had marginal success developing the Mid-Bakken in the area to the north in southern Billings Co. in the 2005-06 era, this area has largely been dormant since that time. The closest TF production is from the Whiting Lewis and Clark Prospect wells to the NW. As shown in the slide from Whiting's corp. presentation, the company plans to have three rigs running in the L&C prospect area by year end.
Given that Whiting has not requested tight hole status with the drilling permits, and will likely request such status later before the wells begin producing, it may be quite awhile before actual production info is released (assuming the company does not issue a press release soon after production is established -- assuming it is established). It probably goes without saying, but any Whiting success here has the potential to open a large untested area on the southern limit of the Bakken to extensive development in the TF where mid-Bakken potential appears highly speculative at best.