Looking Good: Oil in North Dakota, Natural Gas in Pennsylvania

By August 4, 2009Energy, Regulations

A new oil play is drawing attention to North Dakota, beyond the Bakken formation that dramatically increased the state’s oil production in recent years (while ensuring state budget surpluses). From AP, “North Dakota could have a huge new oil field“:

Dozens of fruitful wells beneath the rich Bakken shale in North Dakota continue to fuel a hunch among oilmen and geologists that another vast crude-bearing formation may be buried in the state’s vast oil patch.

Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources, said recent production results from 103 newly tapped wells in the Three Forks-Sanish formation show many that are “as good or better” than some in the Bakken, which lies two miles under the surface in western North Dakota and holds billions of barrels of oil.

Lots of good data at the North Dakota Geological Survey.

Donald Kessel, vice president of Houston-based Murex Petroleum Corp., tells the AP reporter that techniques learned from the Bakken are now being used at other oil shales in the U.S. and internationally. Lower oil prices and idled rigs have slowed technological advances, however.

The key advances that made the Bakken and Three Forks-Sanish shale formations accessible are horizontal drilling and hydrofracturing, i.e., the high-pressure injection of water and other liquids to fracture the strata, releasing the oil.

Both technologies are also at use in the remarkable new natural gas developments across the country: Marcellus, Barnett and Haynesville. During rough economic times, these developments are powerful wealth and jobs creators. To wit: “Penn State Study: Marcellus Shale Development Expected to
Create 98,000 Pennsylvania Jobs by 2010, $14.17 Billion Impact
“:

HARRISBURG, Pa (July 27) – Marcellus Shale development will pump $14.17 billion into the state’s economy in 2010 and create more than 98,000 jobs, while generating $800 million in state and local tax revenues, according to an economic study completed by the Pennsylvania State University for the Marcellus Shale Committee and the Pennsylvania House Natural Gas Caucus.

The study notes a consistent increase in annual drilling and projects a $25 billion contribution to the Commonwealth’s economy in the year 2020. This level of activity would generate almost $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenue and create more than 176,000 new jobs.

Jobs and wealth and tax revenues in New York, too.

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