North Dakota Discovery - 200 Bn Bbl Of Oil

Two hundred billion barrels of oil have been discovered in North Dakota.

America is sitting on top of a super massive 200 billion barrel Oil Field that could potentially make America Energy Independent and until now has largely gone unnoticed. Thanks to new technology the Bakken Formation in North Dakota could boost America's Oil reserves by an incredible 10 times, giving western economies the trump card against OPEC's short squeeze on oil supply and making Iranian and Venezuelan threats of disrupted supply irrelevant.

In the next 30 days the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) will release a new report giving an accurate resource assessment of the Bakken Oil Formation that covers North Dakota and portions of South Dakota and Montana. With new horizontal drilling technology it is believed that from 175 to 500 billion barrels of recoverable oil are held in this 200,000 square mile reserve that was initially discovered in 1951. The USGS did an initial study back in 1999 that estimated 400 billion recoverable barrels were present but with prices bottoming out at $10 a barrel back then the report was dismissed because of the higher cost of horizontal drilling techniques that would be needed, estimated at $20-$40 a barrel.

Business Week confirms the report.
A long-awaited federal report on oil that could be recovered in parts of North Dakota, Montana and two Canadian provinces is to be released this week.

The Bakken shale formation encompasses some 25,000 square miles in North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. About two-thirds of the acreage is in western North Dakota, where the oil is trapped in a thin layer of dense rock nearly two miles beneath the surface.

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said the number of wells in the Bakken increased from about 300 in 2006 to 457 at the end of last year. Bismarck-based MDU Resources Group Inc. announced its first venture into the Bakken this week.

The study being released Thursday by the U.S. Geological Survey was done at the request of Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., over the past 18 months.

"Technology continues to advance," Dorgan said Monday. "This is not going to be a red light or green light about oil development in the Bakken -- clearly there already is a big green light there. But I think the question is pretty clear: How much of that oil is recoverable using today's technology?"

The First report was a quote from New Energy which often gets things wrong. I'd say the Business Week Report is more reliable.

Here is a technique for Mining Oil. I think the peak oil folks got it wrong. As usual. Capitalism beats the fear mongers. Again.

H/T Paper Tiger in the comments at Classical Values.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon on 04.09.08 at 01:44 AM


Ahhh ... sounds like an economic boom for ND ... coming from Minnesota, I wonder what sort of hardy folk will participate? With that said, I do not believe that oil price will go below $100/b though. The speculators have not budged on this even with the confirmation ... this in NOT new news.

mdmhvonpa   ·  April 9, 2008 8:21 AM

It hasn't affected the price of oil yet because there is no chance it will yield oil within the next year. You don't bet on a horse that's not even in the race.

Our oil business is so hogtied by the environmentalists that it could take years before anything comes out of the ground there.

Loren Heal   ·  April 9, 2008 8:42 AM

Screams of outrage from the "environmentalism" industry in 3...2...1...

Anonymous   ·  April 9, 2008 9:49 AM

I'm not prepared to say it's 200 billion barrels of recoverable oil until the release of the report tomorrow. But even if it's a tenth that, our reserves would double. However, keep in mind this is still considered an unconventional resource. And it's going to take years to bring production online in enough quantities to displace significant amounts of imported oil.

Cervus   ·  April 9, 2008 3:14 PM

The only role environmentalists are allowed to play in a Republican administration are scape goats, as you pointed out.
The oil industry is awash with subsidies AND profits. This is a clear misuse of tax payers money. Profits should be reinvested without the need for taxes. You don't tax people to feed an extremely profitable business. Non-sense.
After the rape of the Appalachians by the coal industry, I can't imagine what will happen to the shale oil regions.

Anonymous   ·  April 9, 2008 3:18 PM


The thing about this report is that it will drive capital in the right direction.

BTW the estimate is between 175 bn and 500 bn of recoverable reserves with today's technology.

M. Simon   ·  April 9, 2008 3:19 PM

M Simon:

The amounts are just so huge that it wakens my skepticism. This would completely change the peak oil game. There's already a field (Elm Coulee) producing 53,000 barrels per day. Marathon is investing $1.5 billion in operations there. I fully expect Exxon, Shell, and all the other oil majors to pour billions into the region if the report confirms these numbers.

Anon, this is liquid oil contained in a horizontal formation about two miles down. There won't be any surface mining like you see in coal country.

Anonymous   ·  April 9, 2008 3:45 PM

The 175-500 billion barrel figures everyone keeps citing are NOT recoverable estimates, they are estimates of the total amount of oil in place, or the amount of oil the shale has generated. The recoverable amounts will be some fraction of that. Look for a number more like 30-70 billion barrels, 100 billion at the topside, from the USGS.

This area is already abuzz with drilling rigs and energy companies signing leases for drilling rights. Oil production in ND has gone way up the past couple years. Here's a chart from the state of ND:
So, this is *already* happening.

OIl-Finder   ·  April 9, 2008 3:46 PM

Anon 3:18,

Basically we eat oil and natural gas converted to food.

So what is your new slogan?

Starve the People, Save the Tundra

How humanitarian. Well at least the poor will be the first to go. Great!

Let me also remind you that the kind of mining done in the Appalachians without remediation is no longer allowed. Or are you ignorant of that fact?

I'll bet you were a big biofuels advocate before you discovered - Fill your tank with ethanol. Kill a starving child.

And now you want to repeat that? Are you an idiot? Or do you just want to kill a lot of people with out your fingerprints on the deed?

We are going to need to use a lot of oil until a suitable replacement displaces it. Get over it.

And what is it you don't understand about the US Geological Survey? Is it a government agency you want to kill? Speak up.

M. Simon   ·  April 9, 2008 3:54 PM

From Business Week:

The study does not estimate how much oil may be in the formation -- only what the agency believes can be recovered using current technology.

So I guess we will have to wait a day to see what the report says.

M. Simon   ·  April 9, 2008 3:59 PM

The 3:45 Anon post is mine. I don't know why it didn't grab my posting information.

Cervus   ·  April 9, 2008 4:18 PM

No M. Simon, that 3:45 anon post is not your, I wrote it.

Anonymous   ·  April 9, 2008 4:23 PM


I should have been more specific about which anon.

Thanks. As to glitches. No idea.

BTW I have fixed my comment to give credit to the anon I was replying to. Nice to have admin privileges.

M. Simon   ·  April 9, 2008 4:56 PM

M. Simon, you still didn't get them right.

The post at 3:45 - with the link to the state of ND website - is mine. The post at 3:46 is not mine. "Cervus" is also mine.


Oil-Finder   ·  April 9, 2008 5:26 PM

Oops, I should clarify - the "Cervus" at 4:18 is mine. The "Cervus's" above that are not mine. I didn't post here until the first one at 3:45. Have no idea who the other Cervus's are.

Oil-Finder   ·  April 9, 2008 5:30 PM

Just to keep things from getting totally confused I only changed my post.

M. Simon   ·  April 9, 2008 5:39 PM

Oops, you're right, I read it wrong. I was thinking the name *above* the post was the name of the poster. Not used to seeing forums where the name occurs *below* the post. Wow, that's confusing.

So, nevermind ...

Oil-Finder   ·  April 9, 2008 6:20 PM

The History of Lake Dakota

The birth of Lake Dakota can be traced back to the discovery of massive oil deposits under the state of North Dakota. Conservative estimates said 200 billion barrels, more optimistic ones said as many as 500 billion barrels. Oil companies and others started to work extracting the petroleum from the ground.

It wasn't long before people began to notice land subsidence. Something that happens to some degree with virtually ever oil field, but which proved to be especially severe given the enormous volume of oil in the North Dakota fields. Within a few years hills had become depressions, and small vales had become deep valleys.

This had a huge effect on drainage. Soon areas were being flooded by rain and spring thaw that had been dry land for ages. By the time the North Dakota State Legislature started to talk about the problem North Dakota's wetlands had expanded three fold, and the area covered by lakes had doubled. By the time the U. S. Congress took up the case some 20% of the state was underwater,

The cause of this land subsidence and consequential flooding was controversial. Millions of words were written about it, thousands of blog posts both pro and con oil extraction caused subsidence were made. But by 1012 it was well established that the only scientifically supported explanation was the removal of 10s of billions of barrels of petroleum from deep beneath North Dakota.

Today North Dakota is 95% water, with Lake Dakota extending into the states around her, and into Canada to the north. Now it is deep water rigs that extract the oil, and many of those need to lengthen the cables and chain that anchor them on an annual basis. One rig had to be abandoned when the owner went broke lengthening the mooring on a monthly basis.

Yet oil extraction continues, since there remains an estimated 300 billion barrels of crude. Some experts have gone so far as to state there may be as much as a trillion barrels of oil yet to be recovered.

The effect of Lake Dakota on regional climate and ecology is still under study. The impact of lake effect snow on South Dakota and further south is well known. The environmental impact of the winter thaw is still a matter for discussion.

The American Midwest has seen a lot of changes, and all because oil was discovered under the state of North Dakota.

Alan Kellogg   ·  April 9, 2008 10:05 PM


The oil veins are about 140 ft thick and of low porosity.

Low porosity means lots of rock and little oil.

What you are talking about is what happens when you drill into dome formations.

This is a different kind of geology.

Are you a geologist or just a scaremonger?

BTW I have invited a real geologist to come and comment. If he shows up I'm sure he will correct my errors.

And suppose you are correct. Which is better sinking land in North Dakota or starving children in Africa?


M. Simon   ·  April 9, 2008 10:51 PM

Poor Al, out looking for polar bears, when he should have been looking for prairie chickens.

Papertiger   ·  April 10, 2008 1:19 AM

Well, the report is out. Results?

3 to 4.3 billion barrels. This still represents a significant increase in US oil reserves. But it's only a tiny fraction of what was hoped for. Perhaps that "technically recoverable" number will rise in the future.

Cervus   ·  April 10, 2008 3:24 PM

Depends on the technology and the price.

M. Simon   ·  April 10, 2008 6:39 PM


Neither, just having fun :)

BTW, what we have now are guesses. How much is actually there, and what happens to the land will only become known when we have extracted a few billion barrels.

Alan Kellogg   ·  April 11, 2008 6:47 AM


Anonymous   ·  April 11, 2008 7:44 AM

Ugg. I was really starting to have a full on case of black gold fever too.

Papertiger   ·  April 11, 2008 11:39 AM

To the Dakota lake idiot: 1 barrel is only
7.35 Cubic feet. 200 billion barrels isn't much of a lake. Even if subsidence was equal to the amount of oil extracted (it isn't) and assuming you actually got 200bbls out of the ground (current forcast is 3 to 4.3bbls) your talking about a one foot subsidance in an area a little over 200 miles on a side. At most what you might get are some badly needed irrigtion ponds spread over 50k square miles in three states and two provinces.
Do the math next time.

iaintbacchus   ·  April 11, 2008 4:44 PM

OK, so now we have 4.3bbls vs. 200. Maybe ten times that over the next 50 years as technology improves if we're lucky. That means that the US reserves are now about 17 years instead of 13. And that's only if demand doesn't go up. Can we all start working on alternative sources and life styles now? Because 17 years isn't a very long time. I've had my car almost that long. And this buying our gas from rag heads and South American communist wannabes? It isn't working out.

iaintbacchus   ·  April 11, 2008 4:54 PM


Thank you for the Loki Point.

Alan Kellogg   ·  April 11, 2008 8:44 PM

Don't buy it from those bad places. Buy it from Canada. We have plenty and we are your buddies.

Smitty   ·  April 15, 2008 5:09 PM

To iainbacchus: you're the idiot, there are 55 gals in a barrel of oil , 1 gal is 7.35 cf , so a barrel is 404.25 cf. If you knew anything about geomorpholgy and statigraphy, shales tell us this deposit is anticlinal/ synclinal and if formation is susptable to this kind of subsidence then the formation of a lake is very possible and in all probability will be formed as the subsidence continues

rocky   ·  April 19, 2008 7:20 PM

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