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No Peak Oil?

If this is true, it's a huge story. It certainly seems plausible. I've always claimed that oil reserves are driven much more by technology advances than by consumption rate:

n the next 30 days the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) will release a new report giving an accurate resource assessment of the Bakken Oil Formation that covers North Dakota and portions of South Dakota and Montana. With new horizontal drilling technology it is believed that from 175 to 500 billion barrels of recoverable oil are held in this 200,000 square mile reserve that was initially discovered in 1951. The USGS did an initial study back in 1999 that estimated 400 billion recoverable barrels were present but with prices bottoming out at $10 a barrel back then the report was dismissed because of the higher cost of horizontal drilling techniques that would be needed, estimated at $20-$40 a barrel.

It was not until 2007, when EOG Resources of Texas started a frenzy when they drilled a single well in Parshal N.D. that is expected to yield 700,000 barrels of oil that real excitement and money started to flow in North Dakota. Marathon Oil is investing $1.5 billion and drilling 300 new wells in what is expected to be one of the greatest booms in Oil discovery since Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938.

It's also a story that will enrage those who want us to tighten up our hair shirts.



Mike Puckett wrote:

I sent Glenn a couple of emails trying to give him a head-up up about the Bakken formationseveral weeks ago to no avail.

I guess knowing Limbaush reads Instapundit, I had hopped to hear him pontificate about the find.

Next time I am going to just send the juicy stuff to you Rand.

Mike Puckett wrote:

Please forgive my atrocious spelling in the previous post.

To add one more point: The Bakken is a case study about when a rescource becomes a proven reserve.

I also predict, knowing a bit about report writing and what a bomb this one is going to be, that the thirty days will be more like three to five months.

Adam Greenwood wrote:

Went to a meeting of the Albuquerque Petroleum Association recently, and people who are in the thick of things were very excited about the Dakotas. For what its worth.

Mike: Several people sent me that story, but in some cases it was more than 30 days old. Next Energy News has been unreliable in the past, too.

I certainly *hope* it's true.

Jay Manifold wrote:

Based on the atrocious grammar and syntax at the link, plus the fact that its falsifiable prediction has already been falsified -- the story is datelined 2/13, 44 days ago -- I think Glenn's skepticism is well-justified.

Mike Puckett wrote:

Just go to google and and search on "Bakken Formation".

There is way more out there than that one story

The first link is very good.

Big D wrote:

Note that the original story appears to have a couple major things wrong. Wiki and a couple of other places I found said that 200-500bbl was the total, and that due to the poor rock formations, there might be as little as 5-50bbl recoverable (with current technology, which does keep improving). That's a big difference, but this is still potentially great news.

Mike Puckett wrote:

Jay, considering the remifications of this report, I guarentee you it will be proofed to death and passed back an forth more times than you could count before it is approved for release.

I took that deadline with a huge grain of salt when I read it the first time. My understanding is they have been working on this report for quite some time now.

The reason you have not heard of the Bakken before is in the past, the technology to recover it was just not there. Therefore, no one really bothered to even properly prospect it. Sour grapes and all that stuff....

Mike Puckett wrote:

Big D,

From the first link:

"Porosities in the Bakken average about 5%, and permeabilities are very low, averaging 0.04 millidarcies—much lower than typical oil reservoirs. However, the presence of horizontal fractures makes the Bakken an excellent candidate for horizontal drilling techniques in which a well drills along the extent of the rock layer, rather than punching a hole vertically through it. In this way, many thousands of feet of oil reservoir rock can be penetrated in a unit that reaches a maximum thickness of only about 140 feet. Production is also enhanced by artificially fracturing the rock."

That is what makes the difference between the low and high recovery estimates, the new horzontal drilling technology that did not exist until recently. That and high prices are what is making the Bakken so interesting right now.

Anon-i-moose wrote:

Maybe we can drill horizontally into Canada, suck out their oil and start a war . . .

ken anthony wrote:

What? and send all that money to Dakotan suicide bomber terrorists?

Don't we need an environmental study for how this would affect the yellowstone caldera?

Isn't there some rare insect that needs protecting (with perhaps only a few billion critters per square inch) that might be affected by the drilling?

We need action people! Everybody start running in circles.

God forbid we increase the oil supply outside of the cartel.

Big D wrote:

I have a better idea... let's all turn out our lights for an hour and proclaim a sacrifice to Gaia.

Habitat Hermit wrote:

"Don't we need an environmental study for how this would affect the yellowstone caldera?"

Since you mentioned it why hasn't the Yellowstone caldera become the giant geothermal power-plant of the US? Better to use it and aim for a controlled release of some of the pressure (indirectly by using the heat) than letting it blow up (most likely a global catastrophe if/when it does).

Anyway congratulations on the Bakken field (do I detect some Norwegian there? Perhaps a last name? Bakken means slope and/or ground in Norwegian and considering this is in the upper mid-west it seems likely).

Andrew wrote:

Drilling for oil is great. But I think we are vastly underestimating the utility of building and operating liberal to energy incinerators to generate all the electrical energy and oily by products we could possibly use. A side benefit is no longer having to listen to thier ignorant rants about momma ghia.

Mike Puckett wrote:

Liberal to Energy?

That would still be a fossil fuel.

Tater and the Tots wrote:

Yes, Bakken is a Norwegian word and basically means, "Whole lotta lefse".

Ashley's BFF Jennifer wrote:

It's like totally just like you war mongering global destroyers to like want to drill like for more oil.

Well I'm a member of Greenpeace, WWF, ELF, and PETA. A wildlife study is like already completed and like there are endangered like animals in that Bakken thing. We are like hereby announcing a moratorium on like any drilling to save the Purple Peckered Pike. It only like exists in two streams in SD and like just one in Montana.

So, like, THERE, phhhtttt!!

LONG LIVE PECKERS, um uh, the endangered Purple Peckered Pike!!

Rand Simberg wrote:

Yes, HH, if you weren't aware, that part of the country (Minnesota, North Dakota) was largely settled by Norwegians. The region has a very distinct accent (to the rest of our ears) that no doubt has a strong influence from that ancestry. The best example of it in film is in "Fargo." Example: they'll say "Ya" for yes. And of course, "Uff da" is ubiquitous, at least in the countryside.

Mike Kelley wrote:

Here is a link to an article about a fairly new mining company that has a unique method to recover oil out of fields that conventional drillers have given up on. I work for a mining company in Montana, and we have lost quite a few good miners to this company. The word around here is that the technique is working great, and the miners expect to get rich on the their stock options when it goes public. It sounds like a great company to work for, too.

Boyd wrote:

A quick read of the literature looks to me to illustrate a simple truth of all mining (I work in gold mining) - "it ain't ore if you can't mine it at a profit". Or the inverse in this case, "it becomes oil when you can pump it at a profit." That prospect looks more and more likely as the combination of high prices and better technology work their market magic. Peak Oil vs. Capitalist Driven Know-how? No contest. Buy your SUV now while prices are low.

Romat Rast wrote:

Hey, I'm a peak oil and global warming skeptic too but I also think that we have a long way to go with energy conservation. At first I thought the turn out the lights for an hour thing was just another ridiculous exercise in feel-good-about-yrself futility. Then I recalled driving through or near big cities late at night and remembered how many lights are left burning all night every night for no purpose. If we're going to keep on wasting huge amounts of energy as is done every day in every city on earth and especially now when so much of urban Asia is growing bigtime (3 cheers for them!) we'll always be scrambling to meet demand.

I don't represent anybody or any website. Just throwing out the challenge.

LF wrote:

I would assume the USGS survey isn't that big a deal as the oil guys aren't relying on it for anything useful, there are probably seismic cos. all over the place. The 200 to 400 billion bbls @ a 10% recovery still makes this find 2 to 4 times larger than prudhoe bay which has so far produced 10 billion bbls.

Habitat Hermit wrote:

Rand I knew but not this part:
"And of course, "Uff da" is ubiquitous, at least in the countryside."

Strikes me as hilarious, charming, and a bit strange. I wonder why that particular phrase spread and survived; hopefully they're not all klutzes or anything like that ^_^;

Bob Sanborn wrote:

The more I look at this crazy quest for more oil the more upset I become. We all need to face the reality that oil is not in our future as a viable source of energy. What is needed is a cheap, clean, limitless source of energy. I wish that those in power would take a good honest look at the work of the late Dr. Bussard. He had a concept that without the country going broke can in all probability be turned in a practical fusion reactor. His concept uses Boron11 with the end result being direct electrical energy out and no neutrons. Instead we are spending god only knows how much on the ITER which can never be turned into a practical reactor. It we solve our energy problems all other problems become much more solvable.

Thats my 2-cents worth.

Bob Sanborn

Andy Freeman wrote:

Useful technology doesn't need subsidy, at best it needs protection from rent-seekers.

Bussard's stuff sounds cool, but if it can't raise sufficient private funding, I doubt that it actually works.

Feel free to disagree in the most effective way - invest your own money. If you're correct, you'll also be rich.

If it can't be done without my money, forcibly taken, that's a strong indicator that it doesn't actually work.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Hey, I'm a peak oil and global warming skeptic too but I also think that we have a long way to go with energy conservation.

I agree, but at high current prices, we're probably working on it about as fast as is reasonable, purely from market demand.

skeptic wrote:

Yeah, invest in your "free market" solution to the nation's energy problems. After all, OPEC, a consortium of psychotic states that hate the US, would never artificially drop the price of oil to knock you out of business. That's not how the "free market" works. Don't you know anything?

Besides, I thought our trade deficit was a good thing? Now it is a bad thing that we lose $1 trillion/year on the "free enterprise" side? Wow, who would have guessed? I guess if becoming self sufficient in energy production is a good thing, maybe it would be good if we did the same in some other strategically important industries? Maybe we should put some tariffs or other trade protections in place like the communist Chinese do? Maybe then we could experience double digit gains in GNP like they do every year? Maybe then we wouldn't have to nationalize our banks? Isn't a "free market" great? There's nothing that says "free trade" like nationalizing banks, is there?

TBinSTL wrote:

I've been emailing back and forth with a friend that is in the industry. He's a petroleum engineer doing well test analysis. I'll see what he says and come up with a summary.

Jerry wrote:

I sincerely hope that all of the jokes about endangered species do not come true. At over $3.00 I beleive I could live with a few less fish, insects, birds, etc. This sounds like a good way to let the Middle East drink any of the oil they don't sell to China.

John wrote:

I would like to suggest a book to read, because there is much more at stake than just peak oil.


John wrote:

One more time, hopefully??

Chris wrote:

Every time I log-0n to these websites,it never ceases to amaze me how ignorant and stupid America is.Most of them are so science illiterate,they wouldn't even know the difference between an electron and a proton,or which one has the negative charge and which one has the positive.As if all these nutty and ignorant radical wrong-wing idiot types and stupid hypocrites had any room to be calling everybody else ignorant,stupid and nutty fruitcakes.Especially when considering the source.Just ssk Rush Limp-brains or even George "Wacko" Bush himself.They can tell you all about it(The middle-name initial "W" does stand for Wacko,doesn't it?).

Chris wrote:

The Gaia Hypothesis is not an ignorant rant but a scientific hypothesis backed by plenty of sound scientific evidence over the years.This shows these conservative redneck hypocrites own ignorance.

And the term "infinite"oil vs."finite"oil is so absurd as to be downright ludicrous.This is typical of their ignorance and delusional,wishful thinking.How can it be "infinite" when the size of the planet itself is finite? Only a moron couldn't see this.Even if the planet was an entire hollow sphere filled with oil( which it's not.It's mostly hot,molten iron in the core),it would still be finite.And every time a limited oilfield like the Bakken appears in the news,all the idiots gush that it's going to last forever.But when you do the math,it's always only a stop-gap measure that only buys us a few more years at current consumption rates.But try telling the ignorant radical wrong-wing idiots that.They will always be stubbornly argumentive against real facts vs.ignorant opinons to the very end.

Now,the idea about tapping the geothermal potential of Yellowstone is a good idea that I have thought about myself for many years now.It could produce the power of many nuclear plants without the nuclear waste.And would help relieve pressure before it blows,terminating all civilization as we know it.At present,there is no economical way,the cost too high.Plus,it would spoil the scenic beauty of one of America's natural wonders.But in the future,new technology might reduce cost and prevent ruining the scenic wonders there.

Bill wrote:

Enjoy the view of your wonderful plains when you are unemployed due to the failure of your economy which is and has always been based on cheap oil. Those days are gone. Conservation will not work being that any excess output is being gobbled up by China and India (eventually Africa)never to be regained as those economies emerge. Both countries are cutting deals directly with countrys and bypassing OPEC. When oil gets to $120.00 a barrel, OPEC dosen't matter anymore. Why not build a power plant in ND and SD, hell no one is there anyway to bitch about the smoke. Remove transportation costs, put up extra wind turbines and boom! ND now becomes another Russia. Sell electricity to the rest of the country. New state flag and logo
"North Dakota, we light America, literally".

M. Simon wrote:

Business Week Confirmation here:

And yes. New Energy Screwed the story badly.

All they got right was oil found in Northern USA, basically.

M. Simon wrote:

Tests on the Bussard concept are being done by the US Navy as we speak.

If the tests are positive the Navy is committed to building a 100 MWth test reactor.

Matt wrote:

Report puts recoverable reserves at

Anonymous wrote:

Last post trancated for some reason. Report puts the recoverable reserves at

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on March 28, 2008 12:32 PM.

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