Bakken Oil Fields Mark Billionth Barrel Of Oil



North Dakota began producing oil in 1951, when crude was struck on a wheat farm near Tioga in the northwest part of the state. The state tallied its 1 billionth barrel of oil in 1989 and the 2 billionth barrel in 2011. The state is on track to tally its 3 billionth barrel of oil this year or next, Ritter said.

Jim Halvorson, a petroleum geologist with the Montana Board of Oil and Gas, said his state has produced 1.8 billion barrels of oil since 1916.

The U.S. Geological Survey has called the Bakken the largest continuous oil accumulation it had ever assessed. The agency, which bases its data largely on information from oil company and state drilling records, said up to 7.4 billion barrels of oil could be recovered from the Bakken and the underlying Three Forks using current technology.

To capture crude from the formations, companies drill down nearly two miles (three kilometers) then angle the well sideways for about another two to three miles. A pressurized concoction of water, chemicals and grit is injected to break open oil-bearing rock, which allows the oil to flow to the well.

That technique, known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, has been blamed for endangering water quality in some states. North Dakota regulators say the state's water sources are protected by thousands of feet of geologic formations atop fracturing operations.


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