this article was in Nov 13th Bismarck Nd paper. i thought some of the comments are humorus, But it shows just how much oil, and gas is in the Bakken formation.. don Nov 13, 2007 - 04:04:23 CST SIDNEY, Mont. (AP) - America's largest inland oil field discovery in the past half century has made millionaires of many people in Richland County.
For the second year in a row, Montana had the largest annual oil production increase of any state, the U.S. Energy Department says. The 20 percent increase is attributed to continued development of the Elm Coulee field in the Bakken formation in Richland County.
"No one on our side of the (Yellowstone) River has had production like ours," said John Mercer, who can't count the number of wells on his ranch. It's at least seven and perhaps as many as 11.
"With that kind of production, they just keep punching holes every few months," Mercer told the Great Falls Tribune, which reported Sunday on Richland County's oil wealth.
The discovery of the large pool of oil south of the Missouri River on the eastern edge of Montana coincided with a huge spike in oil prices to make many residents rich beyond their wildest dreams.
"We had one gentleman who hit a well and got his first three or four months' production checks all at one time," said Russ Atkins, area supervisor in Sidney for Continental Resources, Inc.
The checks totaled $1,110,000.
"He looked at it and figured the idiots had put the decimal point in the wrong place, so he sent it back to us," he said. "We had to return it and tell him the amount was really correct."
The county now has about 550 wells and is producing more oil than the entire state of Montana did just five years ago, said Jim Halvorson of the Montana Board of Oil and Gas.
The field, and the oil it contains, means tens of millions of dollars for the Richland County government and the state of Montana.
"I think the bulk of Montana's budget surplus comes from the oil fields of Richland and Fallon counties," said Richland County Commissioner Mark Rehbein, an assessment with which the Montana Petroleum Association agrees.
Unfortunately, the red-hot boom is cooling down.
"All oil fields decline over time, and it looks as though this peaked in November 2006," said Dick Findley of Prospector Oil Inc. of Billings.
Now much of the excitement is moving into North Dakota's Williston Basin.
Thirty years ago, there was a short-lived oil boom in Richland County that took a big toll on people who had come to depend on those windfall revenues.
People are much more guarded this time around, said Wade VanEvery, executive director of the Sidney Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture.
"We've seen a lot of mineral owners benefit, but no one's exploiting their wealth," VanEvery said.