Monday, May 5, 2008

Update on Bakken Formation oil deposit

3 to 4.3 Billion Barrels of Technically Recoverable Oil Assessed in North Dakota and Montana’s Bakken Formation—25 Times More Than 1995 Estimate—
Released: 4/10/2008 2:25:36 PM

Reston, VA - North Dakota and Montana have an estimated 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil in an area known as the Bakken Formation.

A U.S. Geological Survey assessment, released April 10, shows a 25-fold increase in the amount of oil that can be recovered compared to the agency's 1995 estimate of 151 million barrels of oil.

Technically recoverable oil resources are those producible using currently available technology and industry practices. USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources.

New geologic models applied to the Bakken Formation, advances in drilling and production technologies, and recent oil discoveries have resulted in these substantially larger technically recoverable oil volumes. About 105 million barrels of oil were produced from the Bakken Formation by the end of 2007.

The USGS Bakken study was undertaken as part of a nationwide project assessing domestic petroleum basins using standardized methodology and protocol as required by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 2000.

The Bakken Formation estimate is larger than all other current USGS oil assessments of the lower 48 states and is the largest "continuous" oil accumulation ever assessed by the USGS. A "continuous" oil accumulation means that the oil resource is dispersed throughout a geologic formation rather than existing as discrete, localized occurrences. The next largest "continuous" oil accumulation in the U.S. is in the Austin Chalk of Texas and Louisiana, with an undiscovered estimate of 1.0 billions of barrels of technically recoverable oil.

"It is clear that the Bakken formation contains a significant amount of oil - the question is how much of that oil is recoverable using today's technology?" said Senator Byron Dorgan, of North Dakota. "To get an answer to this important question, I requested that the U.S. Geological Survey complete this study, which will provide an up-to-date estimate on the amount of technically recoverable oil resources in the Bakken Shale formation."

The USGS estimate of 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil has a mean value of 3.65 billion barrels. Scientists conducted detailed studies in stratigraphy and structural geology and the modeling of petroleum geochemistry. They also combined their findings with historical exploration and production analyses to determine the undiscovered, technically recoverable oil estimates.

USGS worked with the North Dakota Geological Survey, a number of petroleum industry companies and independents, universities and other experts to develop a geological understanding of the Bakken Formation. These groups provided critical information and feedback on geological and engineering concepts important to building the geologic and production models used in the assessment.

Five continuous assessment units (AU) were identified and assessed in the Bakken Formation of North Dakota and Montana - the Elm Coulee-Billings Nose AU, the Central Basin-Poplar Dome AU, the Nesson-Little Knife Structural AU, the Eastern Expulsion Threshold AU, and the Northwest Expulsion Threshold AU.

At the time of the assessment, a limited number of wells have produced oil from three of the assessments units in Central Basin-Poplar Dome, Eastern Expulsion Threshold, and Northwest Expulsion Threshold.
The Elm Coulee oil field in Montana, discovered in 2000, has produced about 65 million barrels of the 105 million barrels of oil recovered from the Bakken Formation.

Results of the assessment can be found at

For a podcast interview with scientists about the Bakken Formation, listen to episode 38 of CoreCast at

You can check out the entire story here.

It won't make us energy independant over night, but this development sure is good news! We absolutely can not allow our government to stand in the way of us taking advantage of this deposit.

In the short term, our politicians have got to release the strategic supply to lower the prices and increase the supplies of gas and oil. After all, the whole idea of this stockpile is for emergency situations, well, I'd say that $3.50 and up for gas and $4.00 and up for diesel and fuel oil is an emergency! At the very least, CONTINUING to add to this reserve HAS GOT TO STOP!!

It will take quite a mixture of things to correct our energy problems in the future, but it should be clear to anyone with a brain that we should be starting NOW,(we should have started years ago)! The tree huggers, the anti-nuke crowd, the green freaks, and all the other bleeding heart liberals better sit on the porch and stay the Hell out of the way!

Well, time for some sleep, besides I already said a lot more than I planned to.


Dave Hebert said...

This is Dave Hebert from the USGS podcast team—thanks so much for mentioning CoreCast. We're glad you got something out of it.

Make sure you check out CoreFacts, our daily, bite-sized science Q&A podcast, at


C.H. said...

It's definitely time we do something about this. I'm tired of hearing about how "inventory is low" when nothing could be further from the truth. The current problem with oil is completely defying the system of economics, and besides, does anyone else recall Reid and Pelosi pledging to do something about this back in '06?

How did that work out?

Tapline said...

AA, Outstanding Post. You really was an educational piece. Thanks.....

Leadpipe Louie said...

Your words are the words of a fool.

Your ridiculous screed about "liberals" being the cause of our current energy situation leaves no doubt in anyones mind that you are just one more in a long string of mindless political hacks who knows absolutely nothing about reality.

The facts are quite simple: our so-called "leaders" are the reason this nation has no legitimate energy policy, not "liberals".

Fact #1: "Liberals" aren't preventing anyone from drilling the Bakken fields. In fact, Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan has been leading the call to responsibly develop them.

Fact #2: The Bakken Formation is already producing oil. The high costs of extraction has prevented the development of the Bakken Formation, not "liberals". Now that oil has reached its current price level, extracting the oil in Bakken is profitable. Get it, or is simple economics too complicated for you?

Fact #3: The 4 billion barrels of oil in the Bakken Formation isn't going to make us "energy independent" when our current DAILY consumption of oil is 20 MILLION BARRELS. The price drop we'd see if all of this oil could be brought the the market TODAY would be pennies at the pump.

Do the math: 3-4 billion barrels in the Bakken Formation, plus the 6 billion barrels in ANWR would provide us with about 500 DAYS worth of oil at our CURRENT consumption (and consumption is never flat, by the way). All data about recoverable reserves and current consumption come straight from the USGS. Look them up and do the math, if you're capable.

Regardless, it's fairly obvious that facts aren't going to get in the way of your political screed. Just keep waving your GOP pom-poms and deluding yourself into thinking that it's the big-bad liberals who are responsible for the state of our nation, rather than the people that you chose to lead it. Blaming others seems to be the strong suit of folks like you.

I'm guessing that you don't have the balls to post this reply, but if you do, try to come up a rational rebuttal to the FACTS I've presented, rather than a name-calling, red herring, straw man response that seems to be the hallmark of right-wing bloggers like yourself.