200+ Billion Barrels of Oil underneath North Dakota – The Sequel

On March 28, I wrote:

According to Next Energy News, maybe as many as 500 Billion Barrels of Oil are sitting in the Bakken Formation underneath North Dakota. Even if the deposit is only 200 Billion Barrels it is still the biggest known deposit in the world. If it is 500 Billion, it gives the US the largest deposits in the world by a big margin.

The preliminary report of 200-500 billion barrels has faded into invisibility as the USGS released a revised study stating that 3.5 billion barrels were available. How can this be? Never fear, I will explain it. Piccolo analyzes the data at the Oil Drum. He explains that the Bakken range has 200-500 billion barrels of oil in place. It is an oil shale deposit. The porosity and permeability of the rock average around 5% and 0.04 millidarcies. I’m not going to explain what a darcie or millidarcie is, because unlike Piccolo I am no petroleum engineer. Stay with me though. In the sweet spots of the Bakken, the recovery rate may range between 5% and 15%. There won’t be many of these. Wells drilled in other locations will have a recovery rate between 1% and 5%, or even lower than 1%. Overall, the USGS estimate of 3.5 billion barrels assumes the total recovery rate is 2.1%. Piccolo is skeptical that the recovery rate will really be this high.

The only way that more oil could be recovered would be if there was a breakthrough invention for recovering oil from low porosity, low permeability oil reservoirs such as the Bakken. And such an invention would vastly increase the amount of recoverable in all the played out oil wells of the world, not just in the new wells in the Bakken Range and the Williston Basin. Any inventors with a good idea out there?

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4 responses to “200+ Billion Barrels of Oil underneath North Dakota – The Sequel

  1. Pingback: Rosemary's Thoughts

  2. Do you remember the last time one of these estimates was correct? Yeah, that’s what I though. They are about as faithful and trustworthy as your local weatherman! Great post. 😉

  3. I think that petroleum estimating is about as accurate as dowsing has always been. In other words it depends on things known or sensed at an unconscious level and is as good as the person doing it, or the “doodlebug” to use the old-fashioned term.

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