Federal and state estimates had pegged North Dakota's portion of the Bakken shale and underlying Three Forks-Sanish oil formations in western North Dakota at about 5 billion barrels of oil, using current horizontal drilling technology. Helms said that estimate has more than doubled based on drilling success and current production rates. "We're starting to see indications that we could reasonably get 11 billion barrels," Helms said.
UPDATE - Here is a summary of recent oil, nuclear and hydro energy related news. Continental oil estimates that the Bakken and Three Forks-Sanish oil formations have 24 billion barrels of recoverable oil based on current technology.
The drilling technology has cut the amount of time needed to complete a well from 65 days in 2008 to about 25 days.
North Dakota has about 5,300 producing oil wells. About 2,000 of those have spudded in just more than three years, aimed at the Bakken and Three Forks.
About 95 percent of rigs drilling in North Dakota are aimed at those formations, and 99 percent of them hit oil, while nine of 10 are profitable, Helms said.
Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said about 650 new wells were drilled in 2010. He and Helms expect up to 2,000 new wells in 2011, which would double the number of Bakken and Three Forks wells to date.
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