THE RUGGED INDIVIDUALIST                     

Bakken oil Reserves

Which Country Has the Biggest Oil Supply?
by Bill Belew

Like you, I’ve been absolutely blown away by what has happened to the price of a gallon of gas. More like just plain mad. But it’s time, way past time, obviously, for all of us to put up or shut up. And by that I mean quit belly-aching to one another (trust me – I do it as well – so I’m talking to myself, too, here!) … and do something.

Not buying gas from one or two of the ‘Big Boys’ for a month, or electing to not buy gas on a given day is not the answer. The answer is one I know you know, and have heard many times before from people a lot more well-versed in this than me: lessening our dependence on foreign oil.

Just poking around the Internet recently, I simply ‘Googled’ the search ‘Untapped U.S. Oil Reserves,’ and the result – like the current price of a gallon of gas – BLEW ME AWAY!

I’ll share some of the highlights I found.

1. Ever heard of the Bakken Formation?

Google it. I did, and again, blew my mind. The U.S. Geological Service issued a report in April (’08) that only scientists and oilmen/women knew was coming, but man was it big. It was a revised report (hadn’t been updated since ’95) on how much oil was in this area of the western 2/3 of North Dakota , western South Dakota and extreme eastern Montana.

The Bakken is the largest domestic oil discovery since Alaska ‘s Prudhoe Bay , and has the potential to eliminate all American dependence on foreign oil. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates it at 503 billion barrels. Even if just 10% of the oil is recoverable… at $107 a barrel, we’re looking at a resource base worth more than $5.3 trillion.

When I first briefed legislators on this, you could practically see their jaws hit the floor. They had no idea’ says Terry Johnson, the Montana Legislature’s financial analyst.

‘This sizeable find is now the highest-producing onshore oil field found in the past 56 years,’ reports The Pittsburgh Post Gazette. It’s a formation known as the Williston Basin, but is more commonly referred to as the ‘Bakken’ and it stretches from Northern Montana through North Dakota and into Canada.

For years, U.S. oil exploration has been considered a dead end. Even the ‘Big Oil’ companies gave up searching for major oil wells decades ago. However, a recent technological breakthrough has opened up the Bakken’s massive reserves… and we now have access of up to 500 billion barrels. And because this is light, sweet oil, those billions of barrels will cost Americans just $16 per barrel!

That’s enough crude to fully fuel the American economy for 41 years straight. If that didn’t throw you on the floor, then this next one should – because it’s from two years ago, people!

2. ‘ U.S. Oil Discovery- Largest Reserve in the World!’

Stansberry Report Online – 4/20/2006. Hidden 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the Rocky Mountains lies the largest untapped oil reserve in the world – more than 2 TRILLION barrels. On August 8, 2005, President Bush mandated its extraction. They reported this stunning news: We have more oil inside our borders, than all the other proven reserves on earth.

Here are the official estimates:

  • 8 times as much oil as Saudi Arabia
  • 18 times as much oil as Iraq
  • 21 times as much oil as Kuwait
  • 22 times as much oil as Iran
  • 500 times as much oil as Yemen – and it’s all right here in the Western United States

How can this be? How can we not be extracting this? Because we’ve not demanded legislation to come out of Washington allowing its extraction, that’s why!

James Bartis, lead researcher with the study, says we’ve got more oil in this very compact area than the entire Middle East – more than 2 TRILLION barrels. Untapped. That’s more than all the proven oil reserves of crude oil in the world today, reports The Denver Post.

Don’t think ‘Big Oil’ will drop its price – even with this find? Think again! It’s all about the competitive marketplace, and if they can extract it (here) for less, they can afford to sell it for less – and if they don’t, others will. It will come down – it has to.

Got your attention/ire up yet? Hope so! Now, while you’re thinking about it … and hopefully P.O’d, do this:

3. Take 5-10 minutes and compose an e-mail, fax or good old-fashioned letter to our elected officials in Washington and their respected leaders. We’ll start with them, and here’s how you can send them your e-mail/fax, DEMANDING the immediate Legislation/Energy Plan that calls for tapping into these (OUR OWN!) re serves, as well as allowing for the offshore drilling for our oil, in our offshore waters and inter-continental shelf … not to mention Alaska.

Technology ain’t what it used to be, people (ever had arthroscopic surgery?). They can surgically extract our oil, and get us on the way to at least some measure of Energy independence, and accomplish it in an environmentally friendly manner.

If you don’t take a little time to do this, then you should stifle yourself the next time you want to complain about gas prices… because by doing nothing, you’ve forfeited your right to complain.

Now don’t get us wrong. We still want to see electric cars going mass production and less pollution derived from using oil, but this really had to be said. What do you guys think?

3 to 4.3 Billion Barrels of Technically Recoverable Oil Assessed in North Dakota and Montana’s Bakken Formation—25 Times More Than 1995 Estimate—
Released: 4/10/2008 2:25:36 PM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192

Main Contact
Phone: N/A

Reston, VA - North Dakota and Montana have an estimated 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil in an area known as the Bakken Formation.

A U.S. Geological Survey assessment, released April 10, shows a 25-fold increase in the amount of oil that can be recovered compared to the agency's 1995 estimate of 151 million barrels of oil.


Technically recoverable oil resources are those producible using currently available technology and industry practices. USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources.

New geologic models applied to the Bakken Formation, advances in drilling and production technologies, and recent oil discoveries have resulted in these substantially larger technically recoverable oil volumes. About 105 million barrels of oil were produced from the Bakken Formation by the end of 2007.

The USGS Bakken study was undertaken as part of a nationwide project assessing domestic petroleum basins using standardized methodology and protocol as required by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 2000.

The Bakken Formation estimate is larger than all other current USGS oil assessments of the lower 48 states and is the largest "continuous" oil accumulation ever assessed by the USGS. A "continuous" oil accumulation means that the oil resource is dispersed throughout a geologic formation rather than existing as discrete, localized occurrences. The next largest "continuous" oil accumulation in the U.S. is in the Austin Chalk of Texas and Louisiana, with an undiscovered estimate of 1.0 billions of barrels of technically recoverable oil.

"It is clear that the Bakken formation contains a significant amount of oil - the question is how much of that oil is recoverable using today's technology?" said Senator Byron Dorgan, of North Dakota. "To get an answer to this important question, I requested that the U.S. Geological Survey complete this study, which will provide an up-to-date estimate on the amount of technically recoverable oil resources in the Bakken Shale formation."

The USGS estimate of 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil has a mean value of 3.65 billion barrels. Scientists conducted detailed studies in stratigraphy and structural geology and the modeling of petroleum geochemistry. They also combined their findings with historical exploration and production analyses to determine the undiscovered, technically recoverable oil estimates.

USGS worked with the North Dakota Geological Survey, a number of petroleum industry companies and independents, universities and other experts to develop a geological understanding of the Bakken Formation. These groups provided critical information and feedback on geological and engineering concepts important to building the geologic and production models used in the assessment.

Five continuous assessment units (AU) were identified and assessed in the Bakken Formation of North Dakota and Montana - the Elm Coulee-Billings Nose AU, the Central Basin-Poplar Dome AU, the Nesson-Little Knife Structural AU, the Eastern Expulsion Threshold AU, and the Northwest Expulsion Threshold AU.

At the time of the assessment, a limited number of wells have produced oil from three of the assessments units in Central Basin-Poplar Dome, Eastern Expulsion Threshold, and Northwest Expulsion Threshold.
The Elm Coulee oil field in Montana, discovered in 2000, has produced about 65 million barrels of the 105 million barrels of oil recovered from the Bakken Formation.

Results of the assessment can be found at