The US Geological Survey National Oil and Gas Assessment will begin in October 2011 and include a new assessment of the Bakken oilfield in North Dakota. Depending on funding, it is expected to take two years to complete. Drilling and production will continue while the USGS conducts its assessment update.
The 2008 USGS assessment estimated 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil in the U.S. portion of the Bakken Formation, elevating it to a “world-class” accumulation. The estimate had a mean value of 3.65 billion barrels.
The 2008 USGS assessment showed a 25-fold increase in the amount of technically recoverable oil as compared to the agency’s 1995 estimate of 151 million barrels of oil. New geologic models applied to the Bakken Formation, advances in drilling and production technologies, and additional oil discoveries resulted in these substantially larger technically recoverable oil volumes. About 135 million barrels of oil were produced from the Bakken between 1953 and 2008; 36 million barrels in 2008 alone. According to state statistics, oil production from the Bakken in North Dakota has steadily increased from about 28 million barrels in 2008, to 50 million barrels in 2009 to approximately 86 million barrels in 2010.