Williston Basin: 8 Reasons Why the Estimated Reserves Have Increased to 52 Times the Original Potential

North Dakota oil fields are rich with opportunity, and the amount of opportunity available in the Williston Basin continues to increase. In fact, the estimated reserves in the Williston Basin have been increased to 52 times what the original estimates believed would be recoverable.

The big question is WHY these estimates about the potential of the North Dakota oil fields have changed so much in less than a decade.

Drilling and Testing in the North Dakota Oil Fields

Ongoing drilling and testing at the Williston Basin has resulted in actual producing wells which have increased the confidence of the USGHS that these prospective reserves in the North Dakota oil fields are in fact real.

USGS North Dakota oil fields map

Courtesy: USGS

Ongoing testing of additional isolated sections of the North Dakota oil fields around the Bakken and Three Forks formations have continued to demonstrate that not only is the initial section of the Middle Bakken been proven not just productive but very oil and gas saturated, but the added benches of reservoirs in the Bakken and Three Forks have also now been proven and continue to be developed across the Basin.

Stable Commodity Prices Lead to More Exploration in the North Dakota Oil Fields

As commodity prices have stabilized in the last two years, the underlying economics of exploration and production has become more consistent. With a better understanding of the investment required to economically develop and produce wells in the North Dakota oil fields of the Williston Basin, it proves up the economics of recovering reserves in place.

Reduced Transportation Costs for Bringing Oil & Gas from the North Dakota Oil Fields to Market

The cost for transporting crude oil and natural gas and liquids from the well head to the refineries and processing plants has dropped dramatically. This reduction of the transportation costs in the North Dakota oil fields have increased the economic viability of crude oil and gas in place, increasing the recoverable reserves estimates.  This should continue to improve as more transport solutions are put into place.

Reduction of Exploration Costs in the North Dakota Oil Fields

The reduction in exploration costs has dramatically reduced the threshold of the cost per barrel of oil equivalent (BOE) dramatically. This drop in discovery and recovery costs has increased the per BOE potential by making it more economical than ever before.

More Efficient Extraction Technology Adds Economic Confidence in North Dakota Oil Fields

Improved drilling and extraction methods have provided accelerated exploration and recovery methods allowing for a more rapid recycling of the capital. By allowing finding costs to be lowered and recovery costs to be raised, this in turn provides a more realistic amount of potential recoverable reserves and adds to the confidence of the economics of getting our the reserves n pace.

More Time to Assess the True Extent of the North Dakota Oil Fields Reserves

Verification through production and maturity of existing well data has provided the time required for engineers to truly assess the potential of the reserves in place as well as the drainage of reserves per net acre.  This data assures the experts of the hydrocarbons in place as well as drainage concerns that were not known until sufficient wells and been drilled to provide the empirical data for that knowledge to be reliable.

North Dakota Oil Fields Experience a Dry Hole Rate of Nearly Zero

The estimated dry hole or failure ratio is almost zero in the North Dakota oil fields.  This in turn provides a higher estimate in that the boundaries of the Bakken and Three Forks have not even been determined as of today’s date.

No Secondary Recovery Numbers Have Yet Been Applied to North Dakota Oil Fields Reserve Estimates

No secondary recovery numbers have been applied to North Dakota oil fields reserve numbers yet, but it is more than reasonable that once the Basin is actually moved along in its first stage development (five years down the road) the USGS will revisit the numbers and make determinations for 2nd and 3rd recovery methods of these primary zones. We predict that these numbers will further substantiate or even more likely, increase the estimates to a much higher potential than what is being touted today!

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