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January 20, 2011

Estimates of North Dakota's Bakken Oil and oil formations around the world like the Bakken

1. Harold Hamm, chairman and chief executive officer of Continental Resources Inc., said the formations in North Dakota and Montana hold about 20 billion barrels of recoverable crude, or about five times the amount previously estimated by federal geologists. The formations also hold the natural gas equivalent of 4 billion barrels of oil.

This is a follow up to a prior article about the Continental resources estimate of the recoverable oil from the Bakken formation



The U.S. Geological Survey released a study in 2008 that estimated that up to 4.3 billion barrels of oil can be recovered in the Bakken. USGS geologist Rich Pollastro said the agency hasn't seen enough data to amend its estimate.

"We think our numbers are fine," Pollastro said Thursday. "We don't see anything at this point that would radically change them."

A state study released after the USGS study found a near identical assessment as the federal report. The state has since bumped its estimate to about 11 billion barrels of oil, based on drilling success and current production rates.

Ed Murphy, the state geologist and director of the Geological Survey, said Continental's new estimate is possible.

"We know the Bakken is going up but we think (Continental's) estimate might be on the high end of what we would potentially come up with," Murphy said.

"The technology continues to improve," Hamm said.

Hamm called his company's assessment "believable" and could mean production at 1 million barrels daily by 2020. He told bankers that would make North Dakota "one of the 13 or 14 largest producing countries — not just state."

Hamm ranked as the 44th-richest American last year, with a net worth of nearly $6 billion, by Forbes magazine estimates

2. How Many "Bakkens" Will Be Found?
The Arthur Creek shale formation in the Southern Georgina (Australia) is very similar to the Bakken but with about 5 times the thickness. All 18 exploratory wells drilled so far have shown oil. Australian geologists certainly seem to think they have found another Bakken. In another 15 to 18 months we will know if this is indeed true.

It is not Australia, however, but France-- where the greatest industry anticipation and activity is building in the search for the next Bakken; in the well known Paris basin.

The Paris basin (current production of less than 15,000 bpd of conventional oil) covers the northern half of France and extends into neighboring countries. It is a vintage oil and gas basin. Over 2 thousand wells have been drilled and 52 fields discovered. It has extensive oil and gas shale deposits. The 3 oil shale formations are the Lower Lias , Amaltheus and Schistes Carton. The current focus of excitement is the Lower Lias with estimated oil in place resource base of a few billion to tens of billions of barrels. The estimates (guesses) for the oil in place in the other 2 formations are much higher.

Torreador Resources asserts that an estimated 100 billion barrels of oil have been generated from source rocks in the Paris basin, of which 30 billion are in the Lower Lias.

In addition to the Paris Basin, Hess thinks it has found a basin analogous to the Bakken in China.

There are potentially huge shale gas discoveries in Argentina, Quebec, Poland, India, the UK, off the coast of Israel, in China, British Columbia.

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