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Recoverable oil in western North Dakota revised downward

December 19, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal report shows that untapped recoverable oil in western North Dakota has dropped significantly in the last eight years due to the number of new wells.

The U.S Geological Survey estimates that the Bakken and Three Forks rock formations contain another 4.3 billion barrels of crude, a 40% drop from the agency’s last estimate in 2013.

About 11,000 wells have been drilled into the formations in the last eight years, collectively producing billions of barrels of oil predicted in the earlier estimate.

“We weren’t all that surprised that the number went down,” state Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said Friday. “I think we were surprised how much the number went down.”

The wells drilled into the rock formations have produced 4 billion barrels of oil to date. Helms said he anticipates the future output of those wells will consist of another 4 billion barrels, The Bismarck Tribune reported.


Helms said about 80% of what’s considered the best mineral acreage in the Bakken oil patch has already been drilled and companies are looking to innovate in parts of the region farther from the center.

The USGS also revised down its expectations for natural gas production. The 2013 estimate anticipated 6.7 trillion cubic feet per day of additional recoverable gas. The latest estimate puts the figure at 4.9 trillion cubic feet per day.