Hoeven: USGS to Update Its Oil and Gas Estimate for the Williston Basin

Senator Brings USGS Lead to North Dakota to Meet With Energy Industry Leaders, Working to Ensure Updated Estimate is as Accurate & Complete as Possible

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today hosted Walter Guidroz, the Energy Resource Program Lead for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in North Dakota for a meeting with energy stakeholders to discuss the agency’s efforts to update its oil and gas estimate for the Williston Basin. USGS recently began the process of updating its estimate, which comes as the result of a commitment the senator secured in 2017, and Hoeven organized this meeting to help ensure it:

  • Reflects the current capabilities of oil and gas production technology, compared to the capabilities of technology in 2011, which were the basis for the current estimate.
  • Includes all of the formations within the Williston Basin, not just the Bakken and Three Forks formations.

The updated estimate needs to be based on complete and modern information, which will provide certainty to the energy industry and promote investment in the region. Attendees at today’s meeting included Director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Lynn Helms, North Dakota State Geologist Ed Murphy, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at the University of North Dakota’s (UND) Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) John Harju, President of Neset Consulting Kathy Neset and President of the North Dakota Petroleum Council Ron Ness.

“North Dakota’s energy industry has made tremendous leaps in technology, leading to a significantly higher recovery rate in oil and gas wells and new records of production,” said Hoeven. “The current estimate for oil and gas resources in the Williston Basin is based on 2011 technologies and does not include all of the formations. That’s why we brought the USGS Program Lead to meet with our energy industry to make sure the updated estimate includes our current capabilities and takes a comprehensive look at all of the formations in the Williston Basin. That’s what will support the long-term development of the region by giving industry the certainty it needs to make investments.”

Hoeven previously spearheaded a similar effort that resulted in the latest USGS study from 2013, which more than doubled the estimates of technically recoverable oil at that time, from 3.65 billion barrels to 7.4 billion barrels.

Hoeven also continues to work through his role on the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Committee to support the development of innovative technologies to advance the nation’s energy dominance. To this end, the senator helped secure the following priorities in the Fiscal Year 2019 funding legislation:

  • $46 million for unconventional oil and gas technologies.
  • A total of nearly $200 million for carbon capture and storage technologies. 

Such technologies help create new opportunities across energy sources, like using captured CO2 from coal and natural gas power plants in the recovery of oil and gas. To further bolster these efforts, Hoeven recently introduced the Carbon Capture Modernization Act, legislation to modernize the 48A tax credit for clean coal facilities to better support CO2 capture retrofit projects, like Project Tundra. Hoeven also continues working to reintroduce legislation to make the Section 45Q tax credit more accessible and ensure energy producers are able to use it for enhanced oil and gas recovery.