You can do anything with it, except drill for it or burn it.
I don't recall hearing about this in the media when it was released. I wonder why that is?
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—(Bold emphasis is mine.)
Reston, VA - North Dakota and Montana have an estimated 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil in an area known as the Bakken Formation.
A U.S. Geological Survey assessment, released April 10, shows a 25-fold increase in the amount of oil that can be recovered compared to the agency's 1995 estimate of 151 million barrels of oil.
Technically recoverable oil resources are those producible using currently available technology and industry practices. USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources.
New geologic models applied to the Bakken Formation, advances in drilling and production technologies, and recent oil discoveries have resulted in these substantially larger technically recoverable oil volumes. About 105 million barrels of oil were produced from the Bakken Formation by the end of 2007.
The USGS Bakken study was undertaken as part of a nationwide project assessing domestic petroleum basins using standardized methodology and protocol as required by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 2000.
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.
"It is clear that the Bakken formation contains a significant amount of oil - the question is how much of that oil is recoverable using today's technology?" said Senator Byron Dorgan, of North Dakota. "To get an answer to this important question, I requested that the U.S. Geological Survey complete this study, which will provide an up-to-date estimate on the amount of technically recoverable oil resources in the Bakken Shale formation."
The USGS estimate of 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil has a mean value of 3.65 billion barrels. Scientists conducted detailed studies in stratigraphy and structural geology and the modeling of petroleum geochemistry. They also combined their findings with historical exploration and production analyses to determine the undiscovered, technically recoverable oil estimates.
USGS worked with the North Dakota Geological Survey, a number of petroleum industry companies and independents, universities and other experts to develop a geological understanding of the Bakken Formation. These groups provided critical information and feedback on geological and engineering concepts important to building the geologic and production models used in the assessment.
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.
From the FAQ page:
Why isn't this information concerning the Bakken Formation on front page news?In other words, "It doesn't fit the agenda."
In April 2008, when the USGS released the assessment of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources of the Bakken Formation, there was a press release which was distributed to the media. The individual media organizations make the decision about what stories to publish. When the USGS assessment was released, news articles were done in several news avenues including the New York Times, the Associated Press, and Oil and Gas Journal.
Why aren't we drilling in the Bakken Formation?That wasn't the question. Why isn't the area infested with drill rigs? Answer: Congress.
Oil has been produced from the Bakken Formation since the 1950's and, as of December 2008, cumulative oil production from the Bakken Formation totaled about 149 million barrels (up from 135 million barrels in September 2008).
Does the Bakken Formation contain more oil than Saudi Arabia?"Yes."
There is no certain method to determine the exact volume of oil that is contained in the Bakken Formation or any formation. The Bakken Formation oil resource is much different than the oil resources of Saudi Arabia. The Bakken oil resource is what we refer to as a "continuous" or unconventional resource, whereas the oil resources being produced in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries are conventional resources. Continuous or unconventional resources require more technical drilling and recovery methods that are much more costly and the oil recoveries per well are commonly much lower than in a conventional resource accumulation. However, the estimate of technically recoverable oil in the Bakken Formation 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, such as those in conventional accumulations. 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.
What are some of the problems with drilling in the Bakken Formation?"It costs more per barrel."
Oil is produced from the Bakken Formation shale in a manner that is a refinement of traditional oil field practice. Traditional oil fields produce from rocks with relatively high porosity and permeability, so oil flows out fairly easily. In contrast, the Bakken Formation is a relatively tight formation consisting of low porosity and permeability rock, from which oil flows only with difficulty. To overcome this problem, wells are drilled horizontally, at depth, into the Bakken and then water and other materials (like sand) are pumped downhole at high pressure (called hydrofracturing) to create open fractures, creating artificial permeability in these tight rocks. The oil can then flow more easily out of these fractures and tight pores. Traditional oil fields regularly employ hydrofracturing and non-vertical wells have also long been drilled. The technique has been fine-tuned for use in the Bakken and other similar tight continuous reservoirs.
Will the oil in the Bakken Formation free us from depending on foreign oil?"It could, if we had the national will to exploit it. See the question above on 'why isn't this front page news?'"
It is hard to determine if the Bakken Formation oil could offset other sources of oil A number of logistical and economic factors affect current and future production, and oil deposits are typically produced for many decades. For these reasons, the USGS does not make forecasts about the future potential of a resource to resolve national energy needs.
"Peak Oil" my aching ass. More expensive oil, yes. But there's a LOT we haven't tapped yet. As the easier stuff taps out and the price goes up, other energy technologies will become more attractive, but the "more difficult to extract" oil will become economically feasible.
If we can keep the modern Luddites from putting us all back in the middle ages.