As I drove up into the southern portion of the Bakken, the first wells I encountered in large numbers were owned by Continental Resources. I saw little to no flaring associated with the many Continental wells I encountered. The first substantial flare I encountered was on a site operated by ConocoPhillips:
As I drove further north, I took photos of probably 30 different flares like this:
There were a lot of new wells being drilled throughout the region, and a lot of hydraulic fracturing activity taking place. As a result, I saw many water lines on the ground, and I saw a lot of pumps owned by recent IPO Select Energy Services Inc:
Further north, there was a lot of activity by WPX Energy Inc. WPX had many wells in operation, and at one site they had more than two dozen storage tanks for oil and produced water (and a visible flare in the center of the picture):
The most surprising observation to me was the level of activity being carried out by Marathon Oil Corporation. In the sweet spot of the Bakken, Marathon was everywhere. Here is one Marathon site, with a well being drilled by Helmerich & Payne, Inc.:
One company that appeared to be doing a lot of flaring was Hess Corp. I observed several prominent flares at Hess sites such as this:
I will close with an anecdote. The CEO of Hess is John Hess. My traveling colleague for this Bakken tour was former NFL football player Jon Hesse (currently the Sr. VP of Business Development for my company). He tells me that since he works in oil and gas, he often has to explain that he is not “that” John Hess. Maybe John Hess can call Jon Hesse about his flares.
The Bakken is undergoing a resurgence, but the current rig count is still only a quarter of the 200 rigs that were drilling there five years ago. Based on my observations, demand for oilfield services seems to be heating up in the region. There was quite a bit more flaring there than I expected, but it could simply be trending back up in response to the latest ramp-up in drilling activity.