Bakken / Three Forks Shale
The Bakken and Three Forks Shale formations are rich oil and natural gas plays located within the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana of undiscovered, recoverable oil, ranking them among the very largest oil plays in the United States.
In 2004, North Dakota was theninth largest oil producing state in the country, producing less than half as much oil per year as the state of New Mexico. In 2010, a mere six years later, North Dakota climbed to thesecond largest oil producing state, surpassing energy-rich Oklahoma and Louisiana - due to the Bakken Shale formation.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), as of 2008, the Bakken Shale was estimated to have an estimated 3 to 4.3 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil (SOURCE:USGS). This 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. Further, the Bakken Shale is estimated to hold approximately 1.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The Bakken Shale has also driven significant job growth in North Dakota. According to North Dakota State University, the shale oil workforce in the state jumped from just over 5,000 in 2005 to over 18,000 in 2009 and estimates now have it at 30,000. If oil production reaches a million barrels a day, it could employ over 100,000 people. (SOURCE:Institute for Energy Research)
The most recent find in Bakken Shale region is the Three Forks Formation, which underlies the Bakken and separted by the Sanish Formation. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the production from the Bakken/Three Forks formations to grow from 350,000 barrels per day to 700,000 barrels per day in the next 4 to 7 years (SOURCE:DOE).
“The Sanish is a very thin dolomitic sandstone that occurs right on the very top of the Three Forks,” he said. “There are some people who want to include that as part of the Bakken – it’s very thin, and it’s not present everywhere.”
It is evident that North Dakota holds rich stores of oil and natural gas that can increase America's energy and economic security, and access to these natural resources will enable the industry to continue to locate sources to wean our dependence on sources of energy from those who do not share our interest.