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Bureau Projects Activity in Bakken Shale

The Bureau of Economic Geology conducted a comprehensive study of the Bakken unconventional shale resource in North Dakota and Montana and found that it will remain a substantial contributor to U.S. oil production for several decades through a range of projected oil prices.

The study forecasts a wide variation of production outlooks from the Bakken and the Three Forks formations depending primarily on potential future oil prices. The study does not predict oil prices but looks at scenarios reflecting the economics of the resource development.

For instance, according to the study, future West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil prices remaining near $40 per barrel would likely lead to declining production from the Bakken and Three Forks formations, resulting in about 14,000 future drilled wells and estimated ultimate recovery of about 5.4 billion barrels of oil. However, ifWTI oil prices were to recover to $100 per barrel, it could lead to 60,000 wells added, capturing 10.5 billion barrels of oil, with production increasing to 1.5 million barrels per day.

The study was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The initial results were presented in a series of presentations at the Unconventional Resource Technology Conference in Austin, Texas, on July 25, 2017. Final results will be published in industry journals in the coming months.