Hoeven Encourages USGS to Reassess Williston Basin Reserves

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. John Hoeven today said technological advances have significantly increased the amount of oil that is recoverable in western North Dakota and urged the U.S. Geological Survey to update the estimates of recoverable oil reserves in the Williston Basin. 

Hoeven hosted a meeting of the U.S. Geological Survey; city, state and county officials; and oil industry leaders in Bismarck to encourage a new evaluation of recoverable reserves in the Williston Basin.  

“In order for our state and local communities to appropriately prepare for ongoing oil development, we need the best data available on which to base our infrastructure and development plans,” Hoeven said. “A new study could strengthen confidence in the long-term potential of this play and help attract additional new investments in community infrastructure such as housing, hotels, restaurants and other retail services needed in the Williston Basin.”  

Also, in light of rising fuel prices, the Senator said we need to encourage more domestic production of oil and gas to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and keep down the cost of gasoline and diesel at the pump for consumers. 

Seven companies producing oil in North Dakota provided data to the USGS about the latest technologies and recovery rates in the Williston Basin, including XTO Energy; Continental Oil; Cornerstone Energy Resources; Marathon Oil; United Energy Corporation; and Sinclair Oil Corporation. Whiting Oil and Gas will be presenting technical data to the USGS in Denver. The North Dakota Division of Mineral Resources also shared geological data with the USGS.  

Brenda Pierce, Coordinator for the Energy Resources Program at the USGS, and five other geologists and engineers from her staff were on hand to hear evidence from oil producers regarding the need and value of a new, updated study.  

The last USGS study, released in April 2008, identified 3.65 billion recoverable barrels of oil in the Bakken formation with far more than that in place. Many companies operating in North Dakota have expressed to the Senator their belief that there are significantly more recoverable reserves. In order to warrant a revised study, the USGS needs current data from oil companies operating in the Williston Basin regarding their production curves, recovery rates, the new technologies they are employing and any new geological analyses available.