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Bakken Shale Play
Latest Bakken News Mon, Feb 4, 2013

Oasis Petroleum’s Bakken Production Doubles in 2012
Wed, Jan 30, 2013

ConocoPhillips’ Bakken Production Averages 24,000 in Q4 2012
Fri, Jan 25, 2013

Will Continental’s Reserves Cross 1 Billion Boe in 2013?
Wed, Jan 23, 2013

Bakken Natural Gas Flaring Should Continue to Fall
Fri, Jan 18, 2013

Bakken Production Down, but Not Out in November 2012
Thu, Jan 17, 2013

Oneok’s Bakken Processing Is Expanding – Garden Creek III Plant
Fri, Jan 11, 2013

Hess’s Bakken Spending Down $900 million in 2013 to $2.2 Billion

The Bakken Shale ranks as one of the largest oil developments in the U.S. in the past 40 years. The play has single-handedly driven North Dakota’s oil production to levels four times higher than previous peaks in the 1980s. As of 2012, ND is second to Texas in terms of oil production and boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the country at ~3%.

The Bakken Shale Play is located in Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota, as well as parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the Williston Basin. Oil was initially discovered in the Bakken play in 1951, but was not commercial on a large scale until the past ten years. The advent of modern horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing helps make Bakken oil production economic. The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated the Bakken Shale Formation could yield 4.3 billion barrels of oil and estimates from Continental Resources stretch as high as 40 billion barrels.

The name “Bakken” originates from a North Dakota farmer, Henry Bakken, who owned the land where the first well encountered the Bakken formation.

Bakken Shale Geology

The Bakken Shale is a rock formation that was deposited in the late Devonian, early Mississippian age. The formation consists of three layers: an upper shale layer, middle dolomite, and a lower layer of shale. The shale layers are petroleum source rocks as well as seals for the layer known as the Three Forks (dolomite) or Sanish (sands) formations.

A 2008 USGS study pegged recoverable reserves at approximately 4 billion barrels and a 2010 NDIC study estimates the underlying Three Forks formation could yield an additional 2 billion barrels. Both estimates are likely conservative. The Bakken is estimated to hold as much as 400 billion barrels of oil equivalent in place. Four billion barrels only represents 1% of the oil estimated to be in place, while current recovery estimates range from 3-10%. Continental Resources has publicly expressed beliefs the Bakken will yield anywhere from 24-40 billion barrels. If you’d like to read more, visit our Bakken Geology page for additional information.

Bakken Shale Companies

While the Bakken experienced multiple small scale booms over the past 60 years, it was a horizontal well drilled in the Elm Coulee Field by a partnership between Lyco Energy and Halliburton that incited our modern boom. The Elm Coulee was proven economic in 2003 and operators began expanding into North Dakota after EOG’s Parshall discovery in 2006. The play was driven by innovations and small to mid size exploration and production companies. If you’d like to read more about the various operators in the play, visit our Bakken Companies page.

Most Popular Stories

Have You Seen the Bakken from Space?

Bakken Production Down, but Not Out in November 2012

Continental Resources – Samson Bakken Deal Agreed for $649 Million

ConocoPhillips’ Capital Budget Favors the Bakken and Eagle Ford Shale

Bakken News Archives
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Bakken Shale Play

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