USGS Bakken oil study released, 3.65 billion barrels of oil

Assessment of Undiscovered Oil Resources in the Devonian-Mississippian Bakken Formation, Williston Basin Province, Montana and North Dakota, 2008 Click on the pictures for larger view.

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated mean undiscovered volumes of 3.65 billion barrels of oil, 1.85 trillion cubic feet of associated/dissolved natural gas, and 148 million barrels of natural gas liquids in the Bakken Formation of the Williston Basin Province, Montana and North Dakota.

UPDATE: There is a separate North Dakota only study out performed by the State of North Dakota. North Dakota also publishes frequently updated reports on new well completions and production rates of these new wells

This is a lower figure than I had guessed. However, it is 24 times more than the 1995 estimate of 150 million barrels and 6 times more recent quotes of 600 million barrels. It increases the US assessment of October 2007 from 42 billion barrels to 45 billion barrels a 6.7% increase. This is a probable [50% probable] reserves number as the old proven [90% likely] reserve number was 21 billion barrels Proven reserves increases by almost 3 billion barrels. The 95% figure was 3063 million barrels of oil. The old proven reserves was 150 million barrels. So the US proven reserves number goes up to 24 billion barrels a 15% increase. Adding almost 2 years to the 12 year life of US reserves based on proven reserve calculations. The Bakken is now the largest probable reserve in the United States outside of Alaska. It is one third the size of Alaska’s ANWR.

As technology improves I would expect the recovery rates to increase. The USGS projection is keeping pace with what is happening now. The technology and the business effort has to and I believe will increase to find ways to get more of what is there.

Just like eventually the shale in Colorado should be tapped for oil with underground heating. The Bakken oil in shale sandwhich should be easier to access than the Colorado shale without oil. When that happens then there will be new USGS reports to reflect that proven development. THe USGS is like Missouri (the show me state). First you have to show that a technique is working then the USGS ups the estimate.

Here is the fact sheet

The USGS press release 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.

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.

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.

Link to the 6.5 minute podcast talking to the authors of the report.

The geological assessment results can be downloaded here

The page where a link to the full report should appear.

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UPDATE: Bakken in the context of the world’s oil megaprojects. About 7 million barrels per day being added in 2008 and 2009 from about 50 projects per year.

For context, I have an article that reviews the largest new oil production that will be starting in 2008. 23 will be more 100,000 barrels of oil per day or more If Bakken development and drilling success went really well then 100,000 barrels per day might be added on the US side and a similar amount on the Canadian side. Canada has 3 oilsand projects starting in 2008. The United states has the Thunder Horse deep sea oil project in the Gulf of Mexico, which should produce 1 billion barrels of oil with 250,000 barrels per day. The Bakken needs pipelines and refinery capacity to reach its full potential.

The US part of the Gulf of Mexico could be producing a daily yield of 800,000 bopd and accounting for 11 percent of US oil production by 2011. This would be follow up to the Jack2 test well by Chevron, which indicates 3-15 billion barrels of oil.

The assessment methodology of the USGS

USGS 1995 study and current decline rates

Estimates of bakken oil size and timing

Multistage fracturing horizontal drilling technique

Here is more details on how horizontal drilling and fracturing work

Bakken oil not fully valued

Bakken oil is highly profitable

A Saudi Arabia of oil in Bakken and Toquay formations in the USA and Canada

Other methods of resurrecting old oil wells. 67% of US oil is still in old wells and needs new technology to help recover it.

MDU resources has a couple of 800 barrel per day wells

Petrobank is a major player in the Bakken and also has the THAI and CAPRI drilling processes for the oilsands in Alberta [scaling up to a 100,000 barrel per day oilsand project over the next few years.

More bakken news from Google news


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