U.S. Markets closed

Oneok on track to connect 700 wells in N. Dakota Williston shale-CEO

Aug 5 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas company Oneok Inc's chief executive officer said on Wednesday the company was on track to connect more than 700 wells in the Williston shale basin in North Dakota in 2015 and forecast connecting more than 600 next year.

Oneok CEO Terry Spencer said the company connected more than 260 new wells in the Williston in the second quarter, bringing its year-to-date total to more than 560 new connections.

"There continues to be an inventory of flared gas in the Williston basin and we estimate approximately 145 million cubic feet per day is dedicated to the partnership, with the majority of the wells flaring already connected to our system," Spencer said, referring to Oneok Partners LP.

Flaring is the burning of natural gas from the production of oil, which has nowhere to go. Oneok is building infrastructure to bring it to market.

Spencer made his comments to analysts on a conference call a day after the release of the companies' second-quarter earnings.

Oneok Partners gathers, processes, stores and transports natural gas in the United States while Oneok Inc oversees the partnership.

There are about 40 rigs drilling in the most productive areas of the Williston on Oneok's acreage dedication in northeast McKenzie, northern Dunn and southern Williams Counties, Spencer said.

In addition, he said more than 900 wells, which have been drilled but not completed, remain in the basin.

"We expect Williston Basin volume in the third quarter to reach approximately 650 million cubic feet per day as we continue to bring on additional field infrastructure," Spencer said.

Oneok stock fell to a two-year low of $34.63 on Wednesday. It last traded down 2.2 percent at $34.91.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)