FARGO – The U.S. Geological Survey will begin a new study later this year to update the estimates of recoverable oil reserves in the Williston-area, North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven said today.
Hoeven met personally with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to pitch the study, which Hoeven hopes will generate a long-term outlook for production potential and infrastructure investment in the region.
Hoeven, who serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been meeting with local, state and federal officials for months to get the updated study going.
Salazar told Hoeven today the Interior Department would move forward with the study. The USGS plans to begin its analysis in October and expects to complete the study in one to two years, according to Hoeven.
While oil production has brought prosperity to North Dakota and development to the sparse plains of western North Dakota – it’s also come with its share of problems. So much growth so fast has left some communities lacking the necessary infrastructure they require to handle the booming population drawn to the oil fields. (For more on the oil boom, check out Forum Communications’ series from last summer, “Running with Oil.”)
“An updated USGS survey will be critical to attract infrastructure investment for housing, hotels, retail stores and service companies to growing communities in western North Dakota by confirming, with good data, that the Williston Basin is a sustainable, long-term play warranting substantial private investment,” Hoeven said. “Solid data will strengthen confidence in the long-term potential of the area and help to attract new investments in community infrastructure throughout western North Dakota.”
Salazar agreed with Hoeven that an intensive analysis of the area could mean a better gauge of future potential in western North Dakota oil extraction.
“We must develop our resources armed with the best science available, and there is now significant new geological information,” Salazar said. “With ever-advancing production technologies, this could mean more oil could potentially be recovered in the formation to contribute to our nation’s comprehensive energy portfolio.”
The last USGS study, released in April 2008, identified 3.65 billion recoverable barrels of oil in the Bakken formation with far more oil than that in place. Many companies operating in North Dakota have told Hoeven they believe there are significantly more recoverable reserves there.