Northern Plains May Hold Huge Oil Reservoir
Up to 4.3 billion barrels of oil are sitting under the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and Montana, according to the government.
The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the find is the largest it has ever assessed. An assessment, which took place in 1999, found that the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge had approximately 10.3 barrels of oil according to Brenda Pierce, a geologist from the agency.
The Bakken Formation covers an area of about 25,000 square miles and is located in North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Almost two-thirds of the oil is located in western North Dakota and is under a thin layer of dense rock about two miles thick.
Using pressurized fluid and sand to break open pores in the rock, companies have been able to recover the oil.
According to Donald Kressel, the vice president of Murex Petroleum Corp in Huston, the estimate may be on the high side. He said that his company was the first to establish a producing well in the Bakken three years ago, and has since built 19 more.
The report, which was released Thursday, was conducting at the request of Sen. Bryon Dorgan, D-N.D.