644 wells pending transfer in North Dakota amid oil, gas price drops: state

Washington (Platts)--10 Dec 2015 636 pm EST/2336 GMT

North Dakota producers are selling off their Bakken acreage and assets in response to declining prices as more than 5% of the state's producing wells await transfer approval, according to the state's Department of Mineral Resources.

"Probably the biggest thing that we see happening right now at [the] oil and gas division is mergers and acquisitions," Lynn Helms, director of North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources, said during a Wednesday briefing.

Helms said more operators are selling off their acreage "to improve cash flow and watch their bottom line."

Late Wednesday, Helms' agency released a list of 644 wells currently held by 13 operators that are currently pending approval from state officials to be transferred to new operators. North Dakota had 13,174 producing wells in October, an all-time high, according to state data released this week.

The transfer requests date as far back to August 2014 and there are other requests which have yet to be made public, said Alison Ritter, a DMR spokeswoman, Thursday.

The largest transfer request is from Occidental Petroleum, which has requested the green light to transfer 346 wells to Lime Rock Resources, a private equity fund. Occidental agreed to sell all of its North Dakota acreage and asset to Lime Rock earlier this year.

Other larger transfer requests include Whiting Oil & Gas transferring 80 wells to White Rock Oil & Gas and 42 wells to Cobra Oil & Gas; Legacy Oil + Gas transferring 92 wells to Crescent Point Energy; and the transfer of 87 wells from American Eagle Energy to Resource Energy Can-Am.

Helms announced Thursday that the state produced an average of nearly 1.17 million b/d of crude in October, up from over 1.16 million b/d in September.

--Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@platts.com
--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, keiron.greenhalgh@platts.com

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