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Bakken Oil "Prize" = Just 1 Month of Global Consumption

By Stacy Feldman

Apr 14, 2008

You probably heard the news last week -- that 3 to 4.3 billion barrels of “technologically recoverable oil” are in the Bakken oil formation that spreads across North Dakota, Montana, and parts of Canada.

That was the conclusion of the US Geological Survey’s (USGS) .

And you probably caught wind of the pre-report hype too. "North Dakota -- the next Saudi Arabia."

Wow, talk about an overestimate.

The USGS numbers don’t add up to anything more than a modest find. The real Saudi Arabia has an estimated 250 billion barrels of oil. That’s 62 times the Bakken’s reserves. While Iraq boasts about 220 billion barrels.

Further, the estimated 4.3 billion barrels of oil are equivalent to only about nine months of oil consumption in America. And just one month of global consumption, reports .

That’s it.

And that assumes being able to recover all of it. Not easy. From :

Now, let's consider the nature of the Bakken oil. It doesn't sit in big underground pools where you can just pop in a metal straw and suck it out. This oil is trapped in layers of shale – a sedimentary rock – up to 3,000 metres deep. Getting at it is expensive and difficult, and certainly damaging to the surrounding landscape and environment.

The exaggerations over the Bakken’s potential have been flowing for quite some time from circles skeptical of a clean energy economy and a new prosperity in America.

They are folks desperate to keep Big Oil and business-as-usual afloat, forever. They're clinging to the status quo, and they hoped they were "Bakken" business, even if just from a PR standpoint. But it's more like back to the drawing board.

Keep that in mind. And this too when you wade through the big talk: Bakken oil isn't what it's cracked up to be.


Just after the Bakken got into production, oil crashed from $147

per barrel $35/barrel. The world is awash in oil.

Despite this new found oil

Despite this new found oil well, we can't go ahead and forget about our gas consumption. We all still need to do our part to . No matter how small our efforts are, the effects will be big in the long run.


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The problem of why we have $4.00 a gallon gasoline is not a lack of drilling or places available to drill. It is rather a problem with its roots in allowing a few major players to gain too much control of not just the oil markets, but of energy policy in general. The finger is often pointed at too much government but the problem is really too much POORLY run government. Government run too much for the sake of wealthy interests rather than for the interests of ALL the nation's citizens. From the standpoint of spurring development of ENERGY COMPETITION $4.00 fuel has been a good thing. A sad epitaph to the Bush legacy is that, had we elected Al Gore we would have had the added incentives of higher oil prices for the sake of tax investments into alternatives instead of the massive transfer of wealth to already bloated multinational energy corporations and terroristic oil dictators who's interests lie in quelling competition from alternatives.
Here is a link to an interview that NPR's Terry Gross had with Pulitzer Price winning author Thomas Friedman. It is about a 1/2 hour of listening that holds great significance to the future of our country.

It is about the direction he feels the country has to go environmentally, politically and economically to avert climate crisis and to repair world political problems and restore our country's strength. It is powerful stuff ! I recommend sharing this link with others. More details are in his book Hot, Flat and Crowded.

Bakken formation

Enough gloom and doom and any progress can be stopped or at least slowed down.

drill now drill today drill

drill now drill today drill tomorrow

Go for it

Just 3 billion barrels at $70 per barrel is 210 billion dollars. This is National Wealth- 210 billion of oil, jobs, and wealth for Americans. I say go for it. If there is 210 billion dollars of anything- go for it. 250 billion barrels at 70/barrel would change the standard of living for all Americans. Should we sit on our Asses or go for it?

Peak Oil is BS!

You Hurt

Here are some questions for you: How large of an oil find in the continental US would satisfy you as being "enough" to give a positive comment? Does it concern you at all that when you Google "North Dakota Oil" the first nine sites, before yours, all refute most of what you have to say on the issue? Is the fact that every single reply post here holds the opposite view of what you posit in any was disturbing [or, heaven forbid, enlightening] to you? Don't you, in fact, dread any solution, short term or otherwise, that would start us on the road to energy independence? Don't you also absolutely despise the word "nuclear" in reference not to weapons but to electrical energy generation that would free up so much natural gas for home heating purposes [ remember the French when you answer ]? Wouldn't you rather see America suffering and relegated to second-world status while other, more "enlightened" countries attain parity and even surpass us economically? Isn't almost everything you report on driven by a doom and gloom outlook that seeks to rub dirt into the face of every positive stride being made by free market America? Wouldn't you rather control every aspect of American life so that it fits your socialistic world view than see the inventive, independent, individual American spirit find ways to make the transition out of an oil based economy? Isn't the lynchpin of your strategy to force Americans into your worldview the "Carbon footprint" hoax that will tax Americans to the tune of several trillions of dollars, litterally out of thin air?
Hell, I'm a truck driver and I've got you figured out. How hard can it be for "educated" folks to pin the tail on that ass? The future of this country is at stake, now more than at any since the Revolutionary War. We know what side I come down on, and we sure as hell know where you're comming from. When everyone finally wakes up from the complacency and apathy that have affected us as a country for too long the line will be sharply drawn and I for one say "Bring It!"

Not every environmentalist is a "Socialist", Maybe we just care

Look, Truck driver or not, You're being screwed by the Oil companies. If You're an independent. you are payng through the ass for Diesel, Period. So while you. Get your Pom-Poms in in tizzy about how "entrepreneurial" we all are, and Cheer-lead for Our Great capitalist ecomomy, Keep in mind that Marathon Oil, one of the Biggest Drilling companies are extracting the Oil from the Bakken. That's the big boys doing what they do anyway, not "Entrepeneurial" Business. Entrepreneurial, you can leave to the Wildcatters, who most of the time waste thier investors money, come up with Dry holes, Rather that hitting it rich, there.. Marathon is More like Taking Advantage as Fast as they can.It's still A small Pittance of Oil in the Scheme of the world Supply, True, but at least it's OUR pittance. Let's just make sure that we get to use & keep it, Because, Dime to donuts, most of the domestic oil we produce DOESEN"t stay HERE, but goes off overseas,FACT! So that "Drill Here & Drill Now" Mantra doesn't mean squat, when the Multi-national Oil Companies are still in charge of it all: Market & prices Included. A little REGULATION would Solve that issue, But Guess what, All the Rah-RAhs for Capitalism, Got rid of it,20 years ago so they could do just what they wanted, Come Hell or High Water, and we couldn't do a damn thing about it when thjey SCREWED US! So much much for NOT BEING EDUCATED! Being INFORMED on HOW THINGS WORK IN THE WORLD is what THATS FOR!
They Screw the Crap out of you, economically, and When someone complains about it , you get all teary eyed and Patriotic on us. and say "How DARE YOU Question These Great Captains of Industry! Well, Unless you've forgotten, this is how DEMOCRACY Works, We USE GOVERNMENT to keep an EYE on the BIG GUYS so they don't SCREW US!. Remember Teddy Roosevelt? There was a Patriot for ya. He Re-inveb=nted Regulation. SO Please, If you just want Fox News, and the Ruckheiser report to feed you their pablum, Don't complain when someone has a different View or Understands the facts on How the world works, & It looks like more doom & Gloom. You also might just want to STUDY UP on how that oil formed in the first place, It turns out that it was CREATED by an Ancient Global WARMING event! So Go ahead MAKE Fun of the EDUCATED persons, and Get on their case. We'll just deride you for touting your Ignorance, Since you think that being Snmart and educated is such a sin. Go on, revel in your ignorance, If you think it will do you any good.
We'll be the ones with the advanced weapons, defending ourselves & wiping out the poor fools attacking us, who thought they could stay stupid, and get away with it, or you might think about how you got pwned into thinking we were the enemy in the first place.... Have Fun truckin', while you still can afford it.

One other piece of info

This is not a new find. The oil was found in the 1950's developement boomed in the early 80's and went bust when the price of oil fell in the mid 80's. USGS estimates total oil in the formation to be 400+ billion barrels of oil.

Missing one other major piece of data

You left out one other piece of the 4bln barrels that it was economically feasable and the price they used was the price of oil in June 2007 not the price of oil in April 2008.
The estimate of total oil is 413 bln barrels or more than is in Saudia Arabia's Ghawar the worlds largest oil field.

The author conveniently left

The author conveniently left out one important detail: those 5 billion barrels are what is recoverable TODAY with today's existing technology. There are actually "hundreds of billions of barrels" in the Bakken Shale - up to 400 billion actually. Most is unrecoverable today, but tomorrow? Who knows.

Bakken oil "prize" Reply

I happened to stumble across your Bakken oil "prize"... summary and would like to
add a couple of comments. I am a geologist and have experience in the ND/MT Bakken play. I agree that the reserve quantities may be overestimated (however, that is sitll YTBD), also I support that no person in their honest mind can make an argument that oil should be persued ad infinitum as a global energy source. My request is as follows, if you are going to attempt to take such a stance against activities that you obviously only have a basic understanding of, at least make sure your word choices and "facts" are straight.

1) There is no such name as the "Bakken oil formation". The Bakken Shale is a formal geologic name and should be used as such. Further, oil is not a rock and therefore should not even enter into a formation name. The oil is merely a product of appropriate organic content in the rock and historical temperature/pressure regimes.

2) Next to never, does oil ever exist in "pools" anywhere on the planet. Oil is always trapped within a rock unit (99.9% of the time in sedimentary rocks), and is quite commonly recovered from depths greater than 3,000m and at higher costs.

3) The typical well drilled in search of oil in the Bakken Shale is no more devistating to the surrounding landscape than any other well drilled in the world, and from an oil field standpoint it has far less impact than those of old. This is because these wells are not only drilling down to the formation but then turning horizontally within it and drilling for distances, in some cases, greater than 2 miles. This means that rather than having to drill 20 wells along that 2 mile trend there is only one.

Finally, on a perspective note, while the oil recovered from the Bakken may only provide a 9mo. supply for the US, just remember that is 9mo. of clothes, food, heat, and homes for you and your loved ones; and 9 months longer that we can employ our creative and hopefully motivated minds toward making the impending transition from an oil driven society to a sustainable society. This is not something
that will be accomplished through complaining to an industrial deaf ear, it is something that will happen through cooperative actions.

Who cares, start drilling.

Who cares, start drilling.

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