Friday, November 9, 2012

Bakken Could Surpass Ghawar

This was one of my favorite MDW commentaries: the case for a trillion-barrel OOIP in the Bakken.

The mainstream press is starting to pick up on this possibility, at Reuters: is the Bakken ready to rival Ghawar?
Could oil production from the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana rival output from Saudi Arabia's supergiant Ghawar oilfield, the greatest oil-bearing structure the world has ever known?
Until recently, comparisons between the shale fields of the Bakken and Ghawar, which produces 5 million barrels per day, would have been dismissed as fanciful.
But Bakken's exponential growth and enormous reserves put it on course to produce more than 1 million barrels per day by the middle of next year, which will earn it a place in the small pantheon of truly elite oil fields.
Ghawar accounts for nearly half of Saudi Arabia's total declared capacity of 12.5 million barrels per day and has produced more than 65 billion barrels of oil since 1951.
Ghawar is one of only six super-giant oil fields that have produced more than 1 million barrels per day at their peak. Others are Burgan (Kuwait), Cantarell (Mexico), Daqing (China) and in the 1970s and 1980s Samotlor (Russia) and Kirkuk (Iraq).
Three words. Federal. Fracking. Regulations.
But now Bakken has burst onto the scene. Output hit 631,000 barrels per day in August 2012, according to North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources, up from 256,000 barrels per day in August 2010 and just 83,000 barrels per day in August 2008.
Growth has been exponential (in the true sense of the word). Output has been increasing at a steady rate of about 65 percent a year since late 2009 and shows no sign of slowing.
Three words. Federal. Fracking. Regulations.

If growth continues at this pace for the next 12 months, and there is no reason to think it won't, production will top 1 million barrels a day by August 2013. [Update: it appears that North Dakota hit the one-million-bopd milestone in April, 2014.]
Go to the link for significantly more information. It is staggering. 

Three words. Federal. Fracking. Regulations.


  1. The federal government under the renewed administration will attempt to get their regulators into plays like the Bakken/Three Forks and will succeed to some extent. Enough to discourage production because that is their intent.

    At the same time we will have to endure clams about how they are so concerned about job creation and working overtime to make that happen. Also they will insist they have their way on the deficit problem. In other words tax increases that will destroy more jobs.

    There are not bounds for the BS they will throw at the country. Unfortunately half to the country will believe it or just don't care.

    Rescission in 2013? Depression by 2014?

    1. I think the likelihood of a severe recession in 2013 is just too likely to be ignored; that business spending graph in the Boston Globe today was quite alarming. The layoffs due to ObamaCare are increasing, and the layoffs are the tip of the iceberg; below the water line is the freeze on hiring.

  2. A good article and very positive on the Bakken/Three Forks. It could all be possible if the federal government leaves it alone. Do you think they will?

    1. No, the feds will not leave the Bakken alone. I've talked about it before. There are two issues:

      1. Money: with this much money being poured into the Bakken, it is absolutely impossible for Washington to not think about redistributing some of it.

      2. Power: power follows money, and Steven Chu (SecEnergy) and Lisa Jackson (EPA) are not going to play second fiddle to Jack Dalrymple and Harold Hamm.

      The one slight hope we have is that killing coal AND killing the Bakken would kill Burlington Northern, owned by Warren Buffett.