Study Estimates Currently Recoverable Three Forks Formation Oil at 2 billion barrels

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Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission’s Oil and Gas Division, said a new study pegs the recoverable oil in the Three Forks formation, under the famed Bakken Formation, at up to 2 billion barrels of oil within North Dakota alone.

In 2008, Helms released a new study of the Bakken Formation, also creating a buzz that dominated the event. It pegged the Bakken as having 3.6 billion barrels of oil recoverable at current technology, across the entire basin. North Dakota’s share of the Bakken’s recoverable oil is put at 2.1 billion barrels. So, Thursday’s report basically doubles the amount of oil considered recoverable in North Dakota, Helms said. Last year, 80 million barrels of oil were pumped out of North Dakota’s ground, a record well above the previous mark of 62.8 million in 2008.

A federal energy official said that despite the new report released by the Industrial Commission, the new estimates aren’t considered part of the nation’s 19 billion barrels of “proven oil reserves” yet. Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said there wasn’t anything new in the report that hasn’t been known by people in the industry for some time


Billionaire oilman Harold Hamm believes the state and federal estimates of recoverable oil in the Bakken and Three Forks are conservative. “I made a statement two years ago I thought the play (Bakken and Three Forks) has 8 billion barrels of oil,” said Hamm, chairman and chief executive officer of Continental Resources Inc., an independent oil and gas company based in Enid, Okla.

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