Interior doubles estimates of oil in Dakotas, Montana

posted at 8:41 am on May 1, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Remember all of the rosy projections about the amount of oil and gas that we could get from shale in the Dakotas when the Bakken Field first came into focus?  Energy producers predicted that the find would push us toward energy independence, as long as government didn’t get in the way.  The oil alone would last for decades, and the natural gas might change the way America generates power altogether.

Well, I hate to tell you, but all of those sunny optimists were wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  They weren’t optimistic enough:

The federal government is doubling its estimate of how much oil might be discovered and harvested in the booming area of the Dakotas and Montana, a region that’s already helping to drive the United States’ dramatic shift into a role as the world’s leading oil producer.

“These world-class formations contain even more energy resource potential than previously understood, which is important information as we continue to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday in a conference call.

The surge comes primarily because of the Three Forks shale formation, which lies mostly in North Dakota and crosses into South Dakota and Montana. It was considered to have little potential for productive drilling the last time federal geologists launched an estimate of the area, four years ago. But advances in drilling techniques and growing activity by oil companies caused the U.S. Geological Survey to take a closer look.

The USGS now thinks the Three Forks formation contains 3.73 billion barrels of undiscovered and technically recoverable oil. Combined with a similar figure for the neighboring Bakken formation, it represents double the oil and nearly triple the natural gas that geologists thought the region held four years ago.

“Recoverable” is a term of art, of course, but the development of fracking and of horizontal drilling has vastly improved the ability to recover known reserves.  CNBC asked a University of Houston researcher about the estimates and recoverability, and he replied that the estimates may still low-ball the actual recoverable oil and gas:

“We agree with the range of numbers and think the high estimate of 11 billion barrels is a reasonable target as technology and exploration of the Three Forks continues,” said Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, referring to the upper end of the USGS estimate.

Dr. Don Van Nieuwenhuise, head of the geosciences program at University of Houston, said the USGS numbers are conservative as they are based on looking at “sweet spots” within the formation.

“There are chances there are sweet spots they don’t know about. The prospects of finding additional sweet spots in an area this size is relatively high,” he said. “I’m pretty sure every drop they say you’re going to find, you’ll find.”

New drilling technologies like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have turned the Bakken Formation and Three Forks into one of the nation’s most important sources of domestic crude.

The investor analysis site 24/7 Wall St says this may be a real game-changer, unlike recent (ahem) uses of the term:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a study of the effects of shale production on jobs and wages in North Dakota. And IHS has forecast that shale exploration and production could add 870,000 jobs to the national economy by 2015. However, if shale discoveries continue at the present pace, the new data and forecasts could be out of date already, and the shale boom could be more than extraordinary.

It could be — as long as government doesn’t slow down or obstruct altogether the exploration and extraction process.  So far, the operation in the Dakotas and Montana have managed to keep from running afoul of federal regulators, which is why the Dakotas have a low unemployment rate and are experiencing a construction boom.  Construction for a new refinery will break ground next week in Makoti, and more may follow.

Just imagine what we might find off both American coasts, and of all the jobs we might create, if we just allowed ourselves to look.


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Interior doubles estimates of oil in Dakotas, Montana

Frack! – envionuts

Electrongod on May 1, 2013 at 8:43 AM

Jobs what a concept

Administration will screw it up

cmsinaz on May 1, 2013 at 8:47 AM

As long as our dear leader doesn’t stand in the way of development, things will get better for us.

NorthernCross on May 1, 2013 at 8:48 AM

OIL? are you freaking kidding me?

*Dirty, nasty, pulling support out of the earth so it collapses and causes earthquakes and chemical poisoning of the groundwater and then gets used to advance mankind causing further decay of our planets’ delicate eco-system? Have you not heard Al Gore’s latest screech/warning to us?

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/milken-conference-al-gore-rocks-449247

Stop America now, bring this sucker down and we’ll stop consumption on this planet by evil Capitalist pigs. Thank goodness we have a Socialist Marxist in the White House that will put the brakes on this wretched slop called “prosperity”.

Vomit on success.

*MSNBC tirade in 5…4…3…

PappyD61 on May 1, 2013 at 8:51 AM

Sitting on unimaginable wealth, energy enough to relieve poverty in the whole world and we listen to AlGore as he grows fatter and wealthier shouting at the top of his lungs “Don’t drill, Global Warming-Global Warming!”.

Herb on May 1, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Instead of building the XL, why not build refineries in ND and MT. There’s already one in Billings that could be added to.

Kissmygrits on May 1, 2013 at 8:53 AM

…as long as government didn’t get in the way.

Look for government to get in the way presently.

Steve Eggleston on May 1, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Put an Indian tribe to head the entire program then when the government gets in the way scream racism.

docflash on May 1, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Until the intentionally or unintentionally idiotic in this country look at the gas pumps and monthly heating bills and start screaming at politicians… Dear Leader will continue to look for ways to cripple oil and gas. His constituency of libtards look at Big Oil as Satan. (They are non-religious…except for an unending faith in government.) Hey liberals, you truly want no more “wars for oil”? Fine. I don’t think we’d declare war on California or Florida if they began drilling. Well, we’d like a regime change, but no actual boots on the ground.

Sugar Land on May 1, 2013 at 8:54 AM

I find it entertaining that 0bama takes the credit for this while strangling drilling on federal land.

cozmo on May 1, 2013 at 8:56 AM

what do you think they will call the new national mounment?

RonK on May 1, 2013 at 8:56 AM

If the next Republican Presidential candidate wants my support s/he better campaign on complete energy independence for America. That was my number one issue way back in 2000, and while it’s fallen to #2 or #3 in the last couple of campaigns due to current events, it’s back to #1 with a bullet now.

Chris of Rights on May 1, 2013 at 8:58 AM

This is astounding. The cash pouring into the economy would change the American Experiment fundamentally. Of course, this will be fought because they think that cheaper oil will prevent people from investing in alternative energy. Secretly, it will also let Americans lead bigger lives. They want less consumption, period.

From inefficient organic farming to inefficient sources ofenergy, the Left wants to pare down lifestyles to a comfortable 1960′s Cuba level.

antisense on May 1, 2013 at 8:59 AM

To think the Green River formation along the front range of the Rocky Mountains dwarfs the Bakken formation but bid daddy gov keeps it off limits.

trs on May 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Any state with oil and gas reserves better get brushed up on 10th Amendment sovereignty, and be ready to defend it against the enemy in DC.

Demonized on May 1, 2013 at 9:02 AM

EPA will regulate fracking out of business. I’m surprised that the Obama regime is even acknowledging these projections.

petefrt on May 1, 2013 at 9:05 AM

Eagle Ford,Tx. is bustin’ production records as well.

workingclass artist on May 1, 2013 at 9:09 AM

This isn’t even a Red vs. Blue state kerfuffle, but a Red/Purple/Light Blue vs. Deep Blue State-and-Washington squabble. In Colorado, Democratic Gov. Hickenlooper drank fracking fluid to show the enviros how safe the process is, and while New York bans the process because Gov. Cuomo wants green support if he runs for the White House in 2016, just to the south Pennsylvania is raking in tons of $$$ via Marcellus Shale drilling.

That’s the big problem for the hard-core Democratic environmentalists — while they and their allies in the White House would love to do to the entire country what they’ve done to millions of acres of federal land, they can’t stop most states from OKing more drilling without angering a lot of people, including much of the party’s more moderate supporters. And for a place like Texas, where the Dems hope to use the growth in Hispanic voters to win the state back in the next decade, the hundreds of thousands of high-paying oil and gas jobs Hispanic residents have gotten from the new Eagle Ford and Delaware Basin shale development is a major hurdle for the state party, which has to hide it’s hard-core activists who want Texas’ energy policies to be like those of New York or California.

jon1979 on May 1, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Who said, we couldn’t drill our way out of this?

serendip2b on May 1, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Eh, I was looking forward to living in a mud hut and scrounging for acorns and grubs to feed the family, to live like the cavemen did in harmony with Mother Gaia.

Ok yeah we might die of strep throat, a broken bone, or an animal bite but think of the harmony. Homophobes.

Bishop on May 1, 2013 at 9:21 AM

This could end up being such an “easy button” for the next Republican President. All the hippies from the ’60s will be eating mashed peas in a nursing home (if they are lucky) by the time the American public would be capable of giving the Left another chance

Sekhmet on May 1, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Addthe new oil deposits to the EPA’s recent clarity of vision:

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/04/epa-just-shook-debate-over-fracking/64678/

along with the Canadian pipeline and it should be game over for the short term energy crisis in this country. Prosperity should be busting out six ways from Sunday with abundant, reasonably priced energy. Yet, I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Mr. Obama will whiff on all three, holding out for more failed public financed green energy misadventures and pipe dreams.

parke on May 1, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Just imagine what we might find off both American coasts, and of all the jobs we might create, if we just allowed ourselves to look.

But we have to ship our money off to Saudi Arabia. How else are they going to fund islamic terrorists?

rbj on May 1, 2013 at 9:30 AM

So, will lefties now deny ‘science’ after bedding down with it for their AGW crusade?

socalcon on May 1, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Drill baby drill. I’m sure Obama Hussein administration/Congress will find some way to destroy the progress in being “on our own” with gas independence. We should embrace and cheer this finding.

karlinsync on May 1, 2013 at 9:36 AM

To think the Green River formation along the front range of the Rocky Mountains dwarfs the Bakken formation but bid daddy gov keeps it off limits.

trs on May 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM

If all government restrictions on oil drilling were removed, we’d be completely energy independent within two years and wouldn’t have to import another barrel of oil for the foreseeable future.

gryphon202 on May 1, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Jobs what a concept

Administration will screw it up actively oppose it

cmsinaz on May 1, 2013 at 8:47 AM

FIFY.

BKennedy on May 1, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Any state with oil and gas reserves better get brushed up on 10th Amendment sovereignty, and be ready to defend it against the enemy in DC.

Demonized on May 1, 2013 at 9:02 AM

The 10th Amendment doesn’t exist anymore. SCOTUS has used the 14th as a murder weapon against the 10th. Repeatedly. And would certainly be willing to do so again in this case, particularly if Obama can get one more justice.

Chris of Rights on May 1, 2013 at 9:47 AM

— as long as government doesn’t slow down or obstruct altogether the exploration and extraction process.

But isn’t that their entire reason for living?

Cleombrotus on May 1, 2013 at 9:49 AM

If all government restrictions on oil drilling were removed, we’d be completely energy independent within two years and wouldn’t have to import another barrel of oil for the foreseeable future.

gryphon202 on May 1, 2013 at 9:38 AM

I’m not sure we could actually do it in two, although I did read a 180-day plan once on U.S. energy independence. I’d settle for five, just because I’m not convinced the government could even get out of it’s own way in two years. Still, this is clearly the direction we should take.

Chris of Rights on May 1, 2013 at 9:51 AM

another reason to get rid of federal ownership of state land

dmacleo on May 1, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Interior doubles estimates of oil in Dakotas, Montana

Environmentalists, Obama and Al Gore hardest hit.

Developing.

GarandFan on May 1, 2013 at 10:03 AM

New drilling technologies like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking

Why do they push this narrative. Fracking has been around for decades, first used by Halliburton in the 1940′s, with the Left and Greenies not raising an eyebrow or batting and eye at its implementation before. It has been used in over 1 million wells.

Patriot Vet on May 1, 2013 at 10:04 AM

This could end up being such an “easy button” for the next Republican President. All the hippies from the ’60s will be eating mashed peas in a nursing home (if they are lucky) by the time the American public would be capable of giving the Left another chance

Sekhmet on May 1, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Isn’t this what Rommey ran?

Kat_man on May 1, 2013 at 10:07 AM

This could end up being such an “easy button” for the next Republican President. All the hippies from the ’60s will be eating mashed whirled peas in a nursing home (if they are lucky) by the time the American public would be capable of giving the Left another chance

Sekhmet on May 1, 2013 at 9:23 AM

FIFY

Cleombrotus on May 1, 2013 at 10:09 AM

If all government restrictions on oil drilling were removed, we’d be completely energy independent within two years and wouldn’t have to import another barrel of oil for the foreseeable future.

gryphon202 on May 1, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Here’s the irony — The biggest thing Obama could do to negatively impact the economies of some Red States and boost those of Blue States would be to push for the end of fracking bans. That’s because there are some Red State areas (like Eagle Ford in Texas) where production costs only become viable at $70-$80 a barrel, while there are Blue State zones where viability kicks in at a lower per-barrel cost, but drilling is banned. No drilling in California means more drilling in Texas or North Dakota, because the market price is kept high enough to justify drilling in previously marginal or cost-ineffective areas.

You already see that to some extent in gas production. You can frac for gas in Pennsylvania cheaper than you can in parts of West Texas, because the shale formations containing the gas are twice as deep in the southwestern Permian Basin. So with the relatively low gas prices, fracking in that area isn’t viable right now. Open more lands to drilling and you cut the price of oil as well, and also completely shake up where drilling activity is, because companies will gravitate to the lowest-cost areas.

jon1979 on May 1, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Look for government to get in the way presently.

Steve Eggleston on May 1, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Indeed. Regulation allows follows the money, especially in times of desperate economic fundamentals.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on May 1, 2013 at 10:29 AM

That’s all well and good and all… But where’s the algae?

Everything runs on algae these days.

Polish Rifle on May 1, 2013 at 10:45 AM

If all government restrictions on oil drilling were removed, we’d be completely energy independent within two years and wouldn’t have to import another barrel of oil for the foreseeable future.

gryphon202 on May 1, 2013 at 9:38 AM

But that would destabilize the Middle East. Especially Saudi Arabia!

Bwwahahahahaha!

Lily on May 1, 2013 at 10:48 AM

If all government restrictions on oil drilling were removed, we’d be completely energy independent within two years and wouldn’t have to import another barrel of oil for the foreseeable future.

gryphon202 on May 1, 2013 at 9:38 AM

I’m not sure we could actually do it in two, although I did read a 180-day plan once on U.S. energy independence. I’d settle for five, just because I’m not convinced the government could even get out of it’s own way in two years. Still, this is clearly the direction we should take.

Chris of Rights on May 1, 2013 at 9:51 AM

The enviro-progressive beast has grown far beyond the ‘limits’ of government. They have built a structure of far-reaching law such that one person can open a lawsuit and shut down billion dollar resource project and demand multi-year studies.

The huge multinational environmental corporations that do the studies have to be paid by the resource companies at handsome rates, allowing them to grow even larger. The courts go along with it all because they’ve been salted with progressive judges for the last thrity years.

slickwillie2001 on May 1, 2013 at 11:08 AM

So, will lefties now deny ‘science’ after bedding down with it for their AGW crusade?

socalcon on May 1, 2013 at 9:30 AM

The beauty of being a Leftist is being able to say anything you want, regardless of how badly you might change positions, or even justifications, from one day to the next – and feel absolutely no shame in so doing.

/whores

Wanderlust on May 1, 2013 at 11:13 AM

The enviros must be having an Al Roker reaction. :)

PattyJ on May 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM

If all extracted at once, it is enough to fuel America for 9 months straight. Of course oil pricing happens at the margins, so any increase is welcome to lower the cost of energy.

astonerii on May 1, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Environmentalism is a religion. Call for the separation of church and state.

John the Libertarian on May 1, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Peak wut?

mchristian on May 1, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Does this mean I can put the purchase of a Chevy Volt on hold??

The price of used Hummers must be going thru the roof !!! :D

BigSven on May 1, 2013 at 1:54 PM

The EPA better hustle to put the brakes on this with some legal mumbo-jumbo, lest the push for crony capitalist green projects suffer, and Al Gore’s scam – er – pilgrimage towards the sunny uplands of renewable energy hit a pothole.

tpitman on May 1, 2013 at 2:19 PM