Program Partners

Continental Resources
Marathon Oil
North Dakota Oil and Gas Research Program
Conoco Phillips
XTO Energy
Oasis Petroleum
SM Energy

The EERC, in close coordination with Continental Resources, Inc., and several of the Williston Basin’s premier operating companies, is engaged in a research program with the goal of simultaneously improving Bakken system oil recovery while reducing its environmental footprint. The results of the 3-year program will increase well productivity and economic output of North Dakota’s oil and gas resources, decrease environmental impacts of wellsite operations, and reduce demand for infrastructure construction and maintenance.

Specific results will include:

  • Greater understanding of Bakken-Three Forks reservoirs and subsequent significant increases to estimates of recoverable hydrocarbons.
  • Less truck traffic, resulting in decreased diesel emissions, road dust, and spills.
  • Reduced road maintenance costs, wastewater production, disposal costs, and freshwater use.
  • Reduced land use impacts.
  • Increased revenue from added product streams, captured earlier in the well's life cycle.

Opportunities to Share in Results

This is a producer-driven program with the goal of providing solutions to nonconfidential wellsite productivity issues affecting all Bakken producers. Employing a consortium approach for these issues minimizes corporate financial and staffing input, makes solutions available to consortium companies without dedicating staff resources, and partners with the state of North Dakota to ensure transparency and continued cooperative efforts to assist producers in getting the most out of wellsite economics.

Program Details

Activities focused on the optimization of wellsite operations will be developed and prioritized by consortium members but may include projects in these topic areas:

  • Hydrocarbon utilization
    • Investigate use of wellhead gas for drilling, completion, and production operations.
    • Perform engineering analysis of small-scale gas processing technologies and assess viability of implementation.
  • Waste management
    • Investigate alternative treatment and reuse strategies for drill cuttings.
    • Evaluate waste management options for the variety of waste generated at wellsites including trash, packaging, construction debris, sewage etc.
    • Assess approaches for addressing naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), including operational considerations, disposal options, and best practices.
  • Water management
    • Evaluate the technical and economic viability of water recycling and/or treatment on multiwell locations.
    • Inventory water supply options and assess quantity and quality.
    • Inventory water disposal options and assess capacity.
    • Develop a wastewater treatment demonstration facility to allow testing and demonstration of new technology.
  • NORM
  • Reduced gas flaring
  • Site logistics
    • Evaluate design, layout, and workflow to improve efficiency at multioperation wellsites.
    • Investigate equipment and/or component standardization.
  • Process optimization and systems failure analysis
    • Investigate opportunities for systems integration.
    • Perform failure analysis.
    • Quantify and characterize emissions.
  • Soil remediation
    • Investigate improved techniques of spill remediation (both hydrocarbon and brine).
    • Development of Best Management Practices Guides.
    • Conduct site-specific demonstrations.
  • Land reclamation
    • Investigate strategies to accelerate the return of land to productive use after:
      • Drilling activities have ceased.
      • Production ceases and wells are plugged and abandoned.
      • Access road and pipeline rights of way are remediated.
    • Conduct site-specific demonstrations.
    • Develop best management practices guides.
  • Public outreach and education
    • Produce fact sheets for public dissemination.
    • Engage in both industry-specific and public sector platforms.

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