The Bakken's billions

How much oil can be produced from the Williston basin's Bakken and Three Forks formations? The two formations have produced 450 million bbl since 2008, says the US Geological Survey, the year of the agency's previous assessment. Continental Resources Inc., the top Bakken-Three Forks operator, calls this province a "massive oil field of unprecedented magnitude" covering 15,000 sq miles, 87% of which has been proven productive. Continental estimates 32 billion bbl of oil to be recoverable at a 3.5% recovery factor, 36 billion bbl at 4%, and 45 billion bbl at 5%, and USGS says a mean of 8 billion bbl of oil and natural gas liquids remains to be discovered. In an updated geology-bas...

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