8 Facts About Bakken Shale Oil


  1. Bakken Shale oil is name after the Bakken Formation, a series of geological layers of shale, siltstone, and sandstone underlying parts of North Dakota, eastern Montana, and southern Saskatchewan. The 360-million-year old formation is up to two miles below the surface, but is itself very thin, generally less than 100 feet.
  1. Bakken Formation holds huge amount of oil and gas. In the entire Bakken Total Petroleum System, which includes another rock layer called Three Forks, the USGS estimates that there are 7.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil. In addition to the oil, the formation contains 6.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
  1. The oil contained in the Bakken is not easy to extract due to the low permeability of the rocks and the thinness of the deposits. To stimulate production, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are used to create pathways for the oil to flow from the tight rocks into the well bore.
  1. Crude oil production surged from 100,000 barrels a day in 2007 to more than 1.1 million barrels a day in 2014. Current production is about 1 million barrels per day.
  1. Thousands of wells have been drilled since 2007. Currently the number of wells is around 13,500.
  1. Crude oil from the Bakken Formation is more volatile than many other forms of crude oil.
  1. The number of active rigs in the state’s oil patch was 39 in February 2017. It increased to 51 in April 2017 – an 18 percent increase since February.
  1. According to Platts analytical data, breakeven prices in the Bakken shale play fell to $33.53 a barrel in April 2017, from $37.91 a barrel in the same month last year. According to Arthur Berman, 10% of the reduction is due to advancement in technology and 90% is due to lower costs in equipment and services.

By Jamin Djuang, April 22, 2017

Sources: Articles by Frederic Beaudry, Irina Slav, Arthur Berman, USGS

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