A new USGS estimate doubles the amount of recoverable oil in the Bakken region.

It looks like the boom may get a boost.

The United States Geological Survey has just released an updated oil and gas resource assessment for the Bakken and Three Forks formations, and the numbers are promising. The assessments found that the formations contain an estimated mean of 7.4 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil, which is double the previous estimate.

The new Bakken estimate is a mean oil resource of 3.65 BBO, in addition to 3.73 BBO in the Three Forks Formation in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, for a total of 7.38 BBO. The assessment represents a significant increase over the mean resource of 3.65 billion barrels of undiscovered Bakken oil estimated in 2008.

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In a press release outlining the new findings, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said the greater resource potential is important as the United States tries to reduce its dependence on foreign oil.

Since the 2008 USGS assessment, more than 4,000 wells have been drilled in the Williston Basin, providing updated subsurface geologic data. Previously, very little data existed on the Three Forks Formation and it was generally thought to be unproductive. However, new drilling resulted in a new understanding of the reservoir and its resource potential.

In addition to oil, these two formations are estimated to contain a mean of 6.7 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas and 0.53 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas liquids. That is nearly three times the natural gas and natural gas liquids estimated in the 2008 assessment, due primarily to the inclusion of the Three Forks Formation.

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The assessment of the Bakken and Three Forks formations was part of a nationwide project assessing U.S. petroleum basins, said USGS Acting Director Suzette Kimball.

The full press release regarding the new assessment can be found here

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