Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Geologic Column In North Dakota Above The Bakken

January 30, 2013
Energy Generation Conference
Lynn Helms, Director, NDIC
YouTube source:; (no longer available, unfortunately)

Paraphrasing, some direct quotes. See linked video tube for source.

Disclaimer: there will be errors in my notes below. I post these for my benefit for a couple of reasons. They are not meant for the general public. The general public should listen to and view the YouTube video, not read my notes.

Geologic column:
Geology has been very, very good to the state of  North Dakota. The state has the entire sedimentary column from the Pre-Cambrian, all the way up to the Cretaceous Age and into the Tertiary Age. Essentially the whole column is still there. This is very unique. It does not exist in Pennsylvania; it does not exist in Colorado; it does not exist in California.
Diamond exploration in North Dakota also mentioned. Red River area. Think Fargo.

At/Near The Surface

One of the most exciting opportunities: clay deposits in southwest North Dakota and natural gas in the Bakken --> proppants.

Proppant: on average 2 million lbs of sand and 2 million lbs of ceramics for each well. Sand comes from Minnesota and Wisconsin; ceramics comes from China.

Next: coal. ND has an 800-year supply of lignite. But coal production in ND decreasing; a concern. ND is the first state to complete its coal inventory. It represents only about 5 to 10% of our total coal deposits. Coal gasification discussed.

Geothermal energy: installations spiked in 2010/2011, but then dropped in 2012 because natural gas was so inexpensive.

Uranium: thorium reactors discussed. ND uranium deposits include thorium and molybdenum.

A little bit deeper into the column

Natural Gas: Pierre, Niobrara, Carlile, and Greenhorn formations.

Shallow methane deposits.

Methane in drinking water? A baseline has been established; the study was completed four years ago. An anecdote regarding 5% methane in drinking well water north of Fargo on the far east side of the state. Naturally occurring methane (this does not come from fracking).

Some really exciting biogenic deposits of methane in the Red River. Not economic to produce it now.

Waster water going into the Dakota Group formations. Only one spot where the Dakota Group comes to the surface: north of Grand Forks. Permitting 10 wells/month for salt water disposal into the Dakota Group. We will need about 1,600 (3/township) disposal wells in the Bakken.  $2 - $3 million to drill a well; payback in one year; last 50 to 60 years. Do the math. Huge economic driver in the Bakken. Will be placed about every ten minutes apart.

EOR. Will finalize CO2 storage rules this year, and then go to the EPA for primacy. Companies already waiting and ready to go. North Dakota could be a national sink for CO2. One thousand years worth of CO2 storage space.

Spearfish formation: currently on the back burner; still active; but quiet. Canadians are happy with the results, but not the well costs; the Bakken is pricing them out. Mostly exploratory now, but sitting back, waiting, expecting to be fully active in 3 - 5 years, at hundreds of wells/year. One small area in Bottineau County will have 2,400 wells; 24 wells/square mile. Biggest concern: providing electricity to all these wells.

Tyler formation: a bit farther out in the future. One company cored the Tyler in 2012. The "next big thing" after the Bakken/Three Forks. Estimating one billion bbls recoverable. So, if Spearfish is 3 - 5 years and the Tyler is later, think about 5 - 7 years from now for the big breakthrough.

Mission Canyon: historically the biggest; looking for a "renaissance;"maybe fracking the Mission Canyon will be in the offing. Hard to say.

Then, at 19:45: he moves into the Bakken.

One comment for the cocktail hour tonight: not one dry hole in 2012. Eight-five percent of the wells returned a 10% or greater return for investors. There is no better investment.

On a similar note:

The most famous pitch in history

This is a bit fuzzy; for a nice, clear, video, click here

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