The Resurgence of the Bakken Oil Formation

Bakken Formation

The Bakken Oil Formation has a history as rich as the oil it produces. The Bakken’s production took a hit in 2006 with barrel prices taking a hit. However, with new efficiencies and the comeback of U.S. produced oil, the Bakken is gearing up for a comeback. In 2018, 1.3 billion barrels are produced each day. And the Bakken Formation has enough fuel to produce upwards of 2 billion barrels per day in the near future.

The history of the Bakken Formation

The Bakken Formation has been producing oil since 1953, making it one of the largest U.S. oil producers. In 1995, geologist Dick Friendly realized the Middle member of the Bakken Formation was a better target for oil extraction. Through a groundbreaking discovery, Friendly determined that although there was less oil to extract, the Middle member was able to maintain open fractures more than both the upper and lower parts of the Bakken.

Additionally, horizontal drilling was much easier and made for great oil recovery. Through this technique, the Elm Coulee Oil Field in Montana was formed. In 2000, the Elm Coulee Oil field produced a total of 270 million barrels. By 2007, it was producing 53,000 barrels of oil per day, which was more than the rest of Montana just a couple years prior.

The oil surge in Bakken

In 2006, an interest sparked in the East Side Trap when EOG Resources when a single well drilled into an oil-rich layer near Parshall, ND, anticipating the production of 700,000 barrels of oil.  In 2007, the combination of this discovery and a huge tax break started the oil rush in North Dakota. The number of wells drilled in jumped from 300 in 2006 to 457 in 2007! The future of the Bakken formation was uncertain until 2009 when Brigham Oil & Gas achieved great success with large Hydraulic Fracing treatments with more than 25 stages.

With such a successful discovery, you may be wondering how this has impacted the state of North Dakota? The oil boom gave those who own mineral rights a large new source of income. The boom has reduced unemployment and gave the state of North Dakota a billion-dollar budget surplus!

The Bakken Formation has seen another surge thanks to dramatic improvements in drilling returns due to efficiency and productivity gains. The price of a barrel of oil will always determine what goes on in any of the oil basins, but at this rate, the Bakken Formation isn’t slowing down anytime soon.