Interior Department boosts estimates of oil-and-gas resources in North Dakota
Zack Colman - 04/30/13 12:33 PM ET
A federal reassessment of oil-and-gas resources in North Dakota found the state holds twice as much shale oil — and three times as much gas — than was previously estimated.
Technological advancements have made the unconventional fossil fuels in North Dakota’s Three Forks formation “technically recoverable,” the Interior Department's United States Geological Survey (USGS) announced Tuesday.
And by rolling Three Forks into the Bakken shale formation, the region that spans North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana could now produce 7.4 billion barrels of oil, 6.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 0.53 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.
Compared to 2008 estimates, that's triple the amount of shale gas and double the amount of shale oil that the region could yield.
“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 in a statement.
Jewell stressed in a Tuesday media call that some of the reserves “may not be economically recoverable,” but that new technologies made it possible to tap the hydrocarbons.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is largely responsible for the U.S. domestic energy boom. The drilling method accesses “unconventional” fossil fuel deposits by injecting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals into tight shale formations.
Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), an oil-and-gas industry supporter on Capitol Hill, lauded the estimate. He predicted it would draw more energy firms to the region.
“This new USGS study further confirms and reinforces the fact that the Williston Basin is a sustainable, long-term play warranting strong private-sector investment for decades into the future,” said Hoeven,