Skip to comments.U.S. Says 400-Billion Barrel Bakken Oil Field a 'Myth'
Posted on 06/18/2008 10:10:46 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
(CNSNews.com) - Reports circulating on the Internet tell of an oil field spanning parts of western North Dakota and eastern Montana where 400 billion barrels of oil supposedly are just waiting to be tapped. However, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) tells Cybercast News Service that those huge estimates are "a myth."
A USGS report issued in April estimates that there are between 3 billion to 4.3 billion barrels of oil in what is referred to as "the Bakken Formation" -- well below the 400 billion barrels discussed on the Web, but up from the previous estimate of 151 million barrels made in 1995.
Richard Pollastro, Bakken Formation task leader at the USGS, said the myth stems from a 1999 draft report -- never published -- by a now-deceased USGS employee, Leigh Price. Price estimated that the Bakken Formation holds up to 400 billion barrels of oil. To put that in perspective, Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, has about 260 billion barrels of known oil reserves.
Price, however, died in 2000, before his study could be peer-reviewed and published, and the Bakken Formation became the fool's gold of the oil industry.
"Unfortunately, in many instances, we are still trying to explain and defend our assessment versus the inappropriate and irresponsible posting of Dr. Price's 'draft report,'" Pollastro told Cybercast News Service.
According to Jonathon Kolak, a USGS scientist and information specialist, the discrepancy between Price's 1999 estimates and the agency's 2008 findings arises from the fact that Price was trying to assess the "oil generation potential" of the oil found in the pores of rocks and shale in the Bakken field, as well as the total content of how much oil might be pooling up - or "oil in place."
"What Dr. Price was looking at was 'oil generation potential,' and then, from that, trying to make an estimate of 'oil in place,'" said Kolak. "Those terms are very distinct from 'undiscovered technically recoverable resources.'"
The latest study, which was commissioned by U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), is an estimate of how much "technically recoverable" oil and gas is available -- i.e, how much oil can actually be recovered using today's technology.
Kolak also explained that the 25-fold increase between the 1995 estimates and the 2008 assessment is due to two factors: an improved understanding of the geology and advances in drilling technology.
"Our understanding of the geology improved significantly because of the time difference between the studies," he said. "There has been some drilling since then, there has been a lot more information that has come out, other people have conducted studies, and also USGS researchers have conducted studies."
Moreover, drillers are utilizing directional drilling in the Bakken fields, a way of drilling at an angle to tap previously unrecoverable reservoirs.
"If you've been out to western North Dakota, you don't need a USGS report to know that there's oil there because you can see from all the drilling activity that there's a lot of energy development going on in western North Dakota," Dorgan spokesman Justin Kitch told Cybercast News Service .
Kitch admits that comparing Price's 1999 study to the April USGS study is like comparing "apples and oranges."
"But certainly it's nice to have an up-to-date assessment of the amount of oil that's technically recoverable in the Bakken," he said.
In 2006, Marathon Oil bought 200,000 acres in the Bakken to drill over 300 wells. This past May, after the report was released, Texas-based XTO Energy bought 352,000 net acres in the Bakken Shale for $1.9 billion.
The federal government, meanwhile, said only a small proportion of the oil available with today's technology is economically viable for recovery.
"If you're drilling the Bakken, it's pretty easy to drill somewhere in there and at least see some oil, but the question is: Is there enough there to get out and actually be economically recoverable?" Kolak asked.
At the end of 2007, about 105 million barrels of oil had been produced from the Bakken Formation.
The USGS, meanwhile, considers any release or dissemination of Price's unpublished report to be "inappropriate and irresponsible."
Who gives a rat’s ass if it is NOT 400? Drill here, drill anywhere there’s oil. Put a rig in my backyard if you think there’s a couple of hundred barrels down there.
That's what I've read as well. Oil man president presiding over free for all of deregulated opaque speculation by the big banks and hedge funds. Don't see a lot of talk about it here on FR, though. Just the standard mantra about drilling.
When this was known as "slant drilling" in the early years of oil exploration, this was how you drilled into deposits under your neighbor's land without paying royalties, and it led to more than one shooting...
Hmmm. Think Global.
Huck, you get it.
“I drank your milkshake!”
I’m calling BS on the reasoning behind this article. Otherwise, why would these oil companies be spending millions in leases, millions in drilling, millions in related infrastructure, if their wasn’t much oil to be had?
What is the bigger lie?? The democrat lie that Bakken held a mealy 4B barrels (which makes it economically worthless to pursue since by the time you spend billions getting the drills operating, you are empty within 5 years and barely made back your investment)????
Or the ‘lie’ that a field which actually hold AT LEAST 151BILLION barrels (more than 30 TIMES what the democrats said) or that it might hold as much as 400B?
Considering that without an actual oil company using modern technology to do a survey (which gets better once there is a drill into the field), we don’t likely know whether there is 151B or 400B or somewhere in between or even somewhere OVER those two estimates.
But the one thing we can be absolutely, positively, metaphysically certain about is that the DNC and all the liberal carbon-crusaders will lie about the subject. It’s the only thing you can always bank on.
Pelosi is Bakken up the wrong tree!
I can't answer that, but my in-Laws have a farm in northcentral Pennsylvania where they leased the mineral rights to an natural gas driller for a number of years. There is no indication that the property will be, or will ever be, drilled. But the mere fact that the lease was purchased suggests that it is worth it to them to get it under contract.
There is a lot of oil to be had up there, just not 400 billion barrels. It’s a very tight formation from what I’ve read.
Bingo! A winner!!! YES!
Although called a troll for saying so, high oil and gas prices are good for America. as is--man I hate to say this:
Ethanol--for the farmers...flame away I'm first in line///
Yep. Heard the old “must hit some chert or dolomite and got off-line” excuse a lot (in the way-back days).
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