: Found in North Dakota - 100-300 billion barrels of oil

Lord Cadillac
04-16-08, 02:02 PM
Just curious to see if anyone has heard about this. The 80 billion barrels of oil from North Slope in Alaska has lasted 40 years (so far). There's supposably been another discovery of oil near North Slope with more than 80 billion barrels worth of oil. The North Dakota discovery is larger than that recently found in Brazil.

So. Now that we have all this oil.. Things will change. Right? :suspect:


The Tony Show
04-16-08, 02:03 PM
No- the same Liberals who scream "No war for oil" won't allow us to displace a few tit mice and Caribou to harvest the oil right under our own feet. The irony is both hilarious and depressing simultaneously.

04-16-08, 02:14 PM
Sounds like a good time to buy land in ND.

04-16-08, 02:27 PM
Interesting. Looked at the Web sites for the newspapers in Fargo, Grand Forks and Bismarck; only Bismarck had a recent story about this. A story on MSN (http://blogs.moneycentral.msn.com/topstocks/archive/2008/04/10/north-dakota-oil-discovery-called-biggest-in-u-s.aspx) says there's 4.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

Having been to North Dakota several times, the good news is there aren't a lot of people there, and even fewer environmental activists, so if the surveys prove true, it would be nice for the U.S. to be less dependent on Middle Eastern oil.

Of course, part of the reserve lies in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, so Darth Cheney is probably already thinking about invading Canada.

04-16-08, 02:31 PM
This is oil trapped in rock like the Colorado shale. It's very difficult to produce because it cannot be simply pumped out of the ground but must be extracted from the rock. Production costs are way up there. It's not going to make a difference anytime soon.

04-16-08, 02:33 PM
This is oil trapped in rock like the Colorado shale. It's very difficult to produce because it cannot be simply pumped out of the ground but must be extracted from the rock. Production costs are way up there. It's not going to make a difference anytime soon.

Even if it were easy to get to I couldn't see it making much of a dent. There are too many other factors involved as far as I'm concerned.

04-16-08, 02:48 PM
Oil has to be about $70/barrel for drilling to be worthwhile here. The good news is, crude is hovering at $113. Someone with the resources to drill has to feel confident that crude oil will continue to be well above $70 so they can recoup their investment.

04-16-08, 05:20 PM
I bet Daniel Plainview has the resources to drill there.

He'll drill your oil, then drink your milkshake.

Lord Cadillac
04-16-08, 05:47 PM
I added links to the original post on top...

Julie LeFever, a petroleum geologist with the North Dakota Geological Survey, shows a representative sample of rocks in their correct layers from the Bakken formation in North Dakota at the NDGS core library in Grand Forks on March 7.


GRAND FORKS Since the discovery of oil in the Tioga area in 1951, the North Dakota oil industry has seen its ups and downs. In recent years, however, high crude prices have made exploration and production on a massive potential oil play, the Bakken formation, an attractive prospect for many oil companies.

What exactly is the Bakken? Where did it come from, and just how big is it? These are among the "questions of the day" in the mind of many regarding the industry.

In order to find the best possible answers from the best possible source, The Minot Daily News sat down with Julie LeFever, a petroleum geologist with the North Dakota Geological Survey and a recognized Bakken expert, in her office on the campus of the University of North Dakota.

Where did Bakken come from?
"It's been around a long time," said LeFever. "It was in the news in the late '80s, early '90s, when horizontal technology became kind of the standard method of drilling. It had a previous episode of drilling activities with conventional vertical wells in the mid- to late-'70s. (It was) nothing spectacular ñ some good wells, but nothing spectacular. In the late '80s, early '90s it was the first time the technology breakthrough was applied to the Bakken, and it was very successful for some companies. It got a lot of press at that point in time, and there were a lot of companies at that time that got into the play because of the news, probably didn't do their homework and spent a lot of money without returns.

"That kind of quieted things down. A lot of those wells still produce and have been producing since the late '80s, early '90s; a lot of the wells that were drilled in the late '70s are still producing. So the rock's been around a long time. They know it's a potential oil supply, but the problem's always been how to get it out."

A Texas-sized oil play
LeFever credits work on a Texas oilfield as a major catalyst in the new Bakken play.

"I think and I might be wrong on this some of the start of this was due to some success in the Barnett Shale down in Texas, a gas reservoir with similar type of rock," she said. "Not really what we'd normally call a reservoir rock, more of a source rock. Now technology has been developed in the last few years that they can actually go in and fracture-stimulate these wells. It worked down in the Barnett, and there was a group that tried it in Montana in 2001, and had very, very good success.

"They kept it quiet for a while, but now over the last two years or so, that activity has moved across the border following some of the same trends, but not having necessarily the same results. The rocks change just enough to create some problems. So right now, activity has slowed a little bit, because rig prices have gone through the roof. These wells are real expensive to drill. I think the average well now is running $4 million or $5 million to drill. I think we're going to see a slowdown in all of the drilling until the rig prices go down."

LeFever was asked if she thought the heavy rig prices were being driven by the cost of the technology that the newer, higher-tech units are utilizing.

"I think it's supply and demand," she said. "When you have 20 rigs and 60 companies want the rigs at the same time, they can charge pretty much whatever they want, and that seems to be the real problem. When the play started in 2001, these wells were drilling at $2.2 million. Now they're well into the $5 million range, which affects your economics down the road. You've got to have a good well that's going to give you the payout you want in a short period of time. They're going to have to hit a happy medium, or companies will just quit drilling. It's not economic for them to drill."

Anatomy of the Bakken
"North Dakota is in part of the Williston Basin, which is exactly what it sounds like, the same as a washbasin-type thing," LeFever said. "At the time the Bakken was deposited, we were connected to a seaway into Alberta. It came across Alberta into southern Saskatchewan and into North Dakota. The formation is not unique there are equivalent formations that are just like it all over the world. At that particular period of time, these were the kind of rocks that were being deposited. Many of them are oil-bearing, most of them are gas-bearing. The rock in the Williston, it takes so much pressure and temperature to turn it into gas, and it's not deep enough (to produce much gas). Most of the other formations, I believe, are around 14,000-18,000 feet; the Bakken's only at 10,000. So it's still in what they call the oil window.

"The thing that makes it (the Bakken) unique and has been of interest for study academically as well as by oil companies is that it can have as much as 30 percent organic material, which is what changes into and creates the oil. We have three layers to (the Bakken) a lower member, which is a shale high in organics; a middle member, which is a siltstone-sandstone carbonate that has a little bit of organics, but it's really not considered a source rock; and then it has an upper shale, which again isn't very thick generally, it's probably a maximum of 40 feet. It (the upper shale) was what was the target during the late '80s, early '90s the original horizontal play. But it's also high in organics, so it's up to 30 percent organic material. That's really rich for what they call a source rock something that can generate oil and it's been termed a world-class source rock."

Why so much organic content?
"That's not my specialty," she said with a laugh. "It was a worldwide event because there are other rocks that are just about as rich that are at that time period, so whatever the climactic conditions were or what the seas were doing at that time, I don't know. At one time, there was a whole lot of black, ugly rock being deposited."

The source rock story
"Source rocks are not necessarily reservoir rocks, and in this case the Bakken has had two attempts at drilling, which kind of proves that it's a source rock," LeFever said. "This is its third attempt, and this is because technology's getting to a point that it can deal with these unconventional rocks they don't have what you'd like to see in a source rock. A reservoir rock is something that's more like a sponge. It's got lots of holes, and those holes are interconnected. The Bakken's not like that. It doesn't have many holes to store the oil, and it has even less in the way being able to transmit oil from one hole to the next. It has very low porosity, very low permeability what we would term an unconventional reservoir. Those are what's becoming more of the targets now throughout the U.S. not just the Williston because the price (of oil) is higher. (Wells are) expensive, but if you're going to get the return, it takes a lot more money to drill a well. When you're drilling, you're betting you're going to find something. When the rock you're going after isn't optimal reservoir rock, you're going to spend a lot more money and you're going to have a lot more failures. So in order for this unit to be of interest, the price has to be high.

"The other thing is that technology has progressed so far. In the early '70s, we were able to go in, drill a vertical well and basically pump it up pressure it up and the pressure would fracture the rock and break it all up. And by doing that, we were able to recover the oil that's trapped in all these little holes that don't 'talk to' each other.

"When they drilled the horizontal wells in the late '80s, early '90s, they couldn't do that. So if they didn't hit a regional fault of some sort, or regional fracture system that was related to the Basin, it didn't produce or it produced very poorly. There wasn't any way to break up the rock. The difference now is with technology, not only can they go out and drill a lot further horizontally, but they can also go in and pressure these horizontal legs up and break the rock mechanically. They don't have to rely on the natural fractures, they can stimulate it themselves.

"Another thing that's interesting is that these wells have two to three lateral legs that are 5,000 feet long at 10,000 feet down. That, to me, is pretty cool technology. They're going into the middle member, which is also different from the first play, because it's a little more competent, I think. It's definitely got some potential, but the ability to go in give it a fractured-stimulation treatment allows you to tap into the shales above, maybe below, and the rocks immediately above and below (the shales), keep control of that and drain that whole area. That's a big positive in what they've been able to do. So it's not uncommon for some companies to drill one 5,000 foot lateral, some think two and one of the players thinks they need three. The rock is very, very tight again the holes within the rock don't communicate between each other so you really don't know how much it's draining. They could be draining just a fraction of the area, or they could be draining lots you just don't know. That's kind of something they determine later."

What is Bakken crude used for?
"It's probably gasoline, I would guess," LeFever said. "Very light, very sweet oil that almost looks unrefined about like the consistency of what you'd put in your gas tank. Very light, high gravity; very nice, good premium-dollar oil. It converts due to temperature and pressure. It has to reach about 9,000 feet for this kind of organic material to start to convert to oil and gas."

The future of the play
LeFever said she's not sure the success of the Bakken drilling will go on indefinitely.

"It was slowing down. The successes in North Dakota have not been as good as some of the ones in Montana," she said. "So things are starting to slow down. They're expensive wells to drill, and it doesn't just affect the Bakken. It affects all the plays that are going on, and we've got two or three different plays. Sometimes companies can figure out a way of getting around that a little bit, but it's a nationwide problem.

"I was talking to a friend in Saskatchewan the other day, and Saskatchewan is having the same problem not enough rigs and the price skyrocketed overnight. The price hadn't been high enough to generate a lot of exploratory activity. There's always been some background drilling going on, but when it reached such a height, then it encourages the companies to go explore in the 'back yard' instead of importing oil from other states. So until this price settles down, I think we're going to see a little bit of a drop in drilling. With the Bakken itself, there were already companies and are companies that are losing interest in it because the successes haven't been as good here (in North Dakota). They were very good in Montana. And the biggest problem I see from all of that is that they're trying to take the Montana process and apply it to North Dakota. But the rocks changed just enough to where it wasn't going to work. Now there have been recent successes in the Mountrail County area (around Parshall) that have certainly perked everybody's interest. There has been a new field discovery up in Manitoba in some rocks that are adjacent to the Bakken, partly Bakken production, but it's also Three Forks production, which immediately underlies the Bakken. Those things are going to result in an increase in drilling.

Confidentiality and competition
"We (North Dakota) have a confidentiality period," LeFever said. "As these companies figure out why one area's working and the rest of it isn't, or what this company is doing differently (the company will follow suit)." There's definitely competition involved in there, but the fact is that there's one company EOG that's been having some very good success. So I think we'll see an increase in interest related to that. Nobody's giving up on it yet because the oil prices have remained high enough. There's always a learning curve with every one of these plays, and as long as the price stays high enough to get you through that learning curve hopefully we'll get the success and they'll continue drilling. If we see some wells don't do well and don't seem to have success, then it will taper off. They'll go on to something else, something that's going to pay.

"But the first thing that's got to give a little bit is rig prices. I talked to a fellow from Amerada (now Hess) in Williston where I gave a talk, and he said his rig prices at that time had jumped from $9,000 a day to $13,000 a day, and that really changes your economics on how many wells you can drill if you're given a limited drilling budget, how many wells you can drill in that time. Now, I think the cost is like $29,000 a day, and these wells take, I would guess, about 40 days to drill. I had heard for these fracture-stimulations, it was about $500,000 to stimulate one leg of those wells. So you can do the math. If you have multiple legs, it starts adding up real fast."

LeFever explained the state's confidentiality policy further.
"When they apply to drill, they can ask for the well to be what they call 'tight hole,' and the confidential period is six months," she said. "So all the information that the state gets from the well is locked up for six months. So if they figure out a magic secret, nobody else will know about it for six months. But you can bet that companies watch. All that information is available online, and they pay a subscription service fee for it, and as soon as it comes off confidential status it's online.

"What (confidentiality is) usually intended for is not so much the Bakken most of the Bakken acreage is leased. But what it has been intended for is that if somebody makes a discovery and they don't have all the acreage tied up in an area, that confidential period will allow them to go and contact and lease the minerals. That's the major reason behind confidentiality. Ours isn't that long our Canadian counterparts have a yearlong confidentiality period. It just depends on the state, it varies state by state."

Lord Cadillac
04-16-08, 05:53 PM
The million-dollar question:

How big is the Bakken?
"It stretches from about the middle of Billings County to the edge of Mountrail and into Ward and Bottineau (counties)," LeFever said. "It goes into Montana, the closest two counties over, and it goes up into Saskatchewan, Manitoba a little bit, and it connects up to Alberta. So it's roughly the western third of the state. And it's about, at its maximum, roughly 180 feet thick total."

Estimates for just how much oil the Bakken holds, as well as how much can be recovered, vary greatly depending on what source is doing the math.

"It depends on who you talk to," she said with a chuckle. "USGS had a geochemist that said he thought there were 413 billion barrels that the Bakken was capable of generating. Those (estimates) are always up for argument. The latest numbers seem to be, and everybody seems to be happy with, 200 billion barrels it's capable of generating. I did see a paper last year that came back with 300 billion barrels as an estimate. One of the workshops I was in last year said their log analyst had said that he figured when asked that same question that there was 4 million per section, and if you take that and you figure 20 percent recovery, you're looking at roughly a million. Estimates for recovery rate have been as low as 3 percent and as high as 10 percent. I think a lot of the players use 10 percent as an average, but it's a question as to what you think your original estimate is as to what's possible. Two hundred billion seems to be the estimate, but it changes depending on which geochemist you talk to. Nobody seems to complain too much about that number (200 billion).

"As far as potential for a well on a section of land, millions seems kind of high, but we don't know. We're early on in the play, so we really don't know.

"There's lots of oil. But is technology there yet? We're going to have to wait and see."

Changes in strategy
LeFever emphasized that this is not the first time the Bakken has been the main focus of the oil industry in North Dakota, and the industry is hardly "out of the woods" in their attempts of exploiting it.

"We're certainly doing better this time," she said. "Whether it's going to solve the problem or not, it took several attempts with the Barnett down in Texas, I would expect it to take several attempts with the Bakken. It's all a function of economics. It all comes back to what the price of oil is doing, what the costs are doing and can they make money at it. And of course the state benefits when they do make money at it.

"The other thing is that if it doesn't work with the Bakken, this basin is good in the sense that we have multiple pay horizons. So if the Bakken doesn't pay out in one area, maybe by chance there might be something either above it or below it that will be oil-productive. I think we have 15, 20 different formations or zones that produce.

"I don't think we really know a whole lot about the Basin, if we were to look at our collective knowledge. Most of the formations in the Basin are self-source, so they've got their own little source rocks that are also generating oil. The Bakken was thought to generate all the Mississippian oil at one point, but that doesn't appear to be the case. But even if it didn't source all that oil, there's still a lot of oil to be found in the Bakken. I think there's a lot of oil, period, in the Basin to be found I'm very optimistic.
"But it's not going to be easy. It takes a lot and a lot of the plays we've been seeing lately are technology-driven. It's just, how good is the technology? We're drilling a four-foot zone or a two-foot zone in the Bird Bear formation which is about 200 feet below the Bakken, that they go again out 3,000-5,000 feet and it's been very productive. It's a zone that everybody's known about for years, but nobody's drilled it because the technology wasn't there to drill it. All of our plays are getting to be like that. They're going for these more unconventional reservoirs something that's thin, wasn't very permeable so the holes didn't talk to each other, and now they're able to go out long distances at significant depths and it's made them very productive. And we've got lots and lots of that."

Bowman County as a player

Much of the state's oil production currently and historically comes from the Bowman County area in southwest North Dakota. This area is not the same play as the Bakken.

"Bowman is into the Red River (formation) primarily," LeFever said. "And again, we're going to see a lot of these plays change over time as technology advances, so you're going to see different areas become active.

"Like I've said, the Bird Bear's been doing a lot. We have some stuff in the Mission Canyon up in northern Williams and southern Divide counties. The Red River's been busy with horizontal drilling down in the Bowman County area. Off and on, the Madison's been busy. And as these technological breakthroughs come through, or the stuff technology improves, I'm sure we're going to see that. We've got a lot of different reservoirs and a lot of different rock types besides the Bakken that can be drilled and tried.

A subject for learning
LeFever was asked about good resources for people who wish to gain a rudimentary knowledge about petroleum in the state.
"We have some newsletters on our Web site (http://www.nd.gov/ndgs) that have some general kind of introductions," she said. "Whether they're super-technical, I don't know."

"It's hard for me to judge if it's simple or not," she said with a laugh, realizing that as an expert who likely wrote or participated in compiling much of the information, she may not be qualified to gauge the ease of material's comprehension.

"Usually the major plays have been covered in one part or another (on the Web site). None of it is real simple, but one of the things with the industry is that there's so many different aspects of it the economics, they have to lease the land, they have to figure out whether or not they think this is going to work because most of these wells are drilled with multiple partners because nobody wants to take the full risk. The tax end of it also enters in.

"It used to be they had to figure the well was going to pay out within two years or they wouldn't drill it. I don't know if that's what they're using as a standard now or not. So there's a whole economic side that really governs a lot of everything else.

"Then there's the geology side. Every company comes in with their own geologists, they have their ideas, and maybe they work, maybe they don't work. Companies don't normally spend a lot of time talking to each other, and partly that's because they don't want to be one-upped, I suppose, but partly it's because of acreage involvement and stuff like that.

"There's a lot to the industry, it's certainly not just straightforward."

Learning from the expert

LeFever speaks and conducts workshops in North Dakota and elsewhere on the subject of the Bakken and on petroleum in general.

"I present to a variety of different groups," she said. "My last speaking engagement was in August in Denver by invitation to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, and they wanted a talk on a variety of not just the Bakken, but everything that's going on in the Basin and the potentials of the Basin. The last workshop I gave was in Minot, when we co-hosted the petroleum conference with Saskatchewan in April or May. I've done them in Denver.

"I gave a talk in Houston on the Bakken the Bakken is big news. We've been going down the last few years to the North American Prospect Expo to actually exhibit what state acreage is available for mineral lease. We go down with the state Land Department, and we're there to answer any questions that companies have concerning what's going on in the Basin. It's been, I think, very successful. We've spoken to a lot of people. It's kind of an interesting group, because it's not just oil companies, but it's investment bankers and absolutely every aspect of the industry. The Houston Geological Society had me speak.

Lord Cadillac
04-16-08, 05:53 PM
"The next time I talk is up in Regina (Sask.) in April at the petroleum conference, and I have one scheduled for the Rocky Mountain Association of Petroleum Geologists in October. So it's a variety of things anything we can do to get the information out. Most of those talks and that information is on our web site, so the ones that can't make it can at least log online and see what's out there."

LeFever said the survey's goal is to keep people informed as to what's going on.

"We have a list of clients that come here and use the core facility that I talk to on a fairly regular basis that attend these meetings," she said. "They're actively drilling the basin, so it's not uncommon to get a specific question like 'What do you think is going on here?' and 'Do you happen to have a sample of rock from that area?' We just try to provide information, and it comes back to the state as revenue hopefully.

NDGS subscription service
LeFever said the NDGS provides a subscription service to keep interested parties informed via the Internet.

"One thing we do as part of our subscription service is we've been photographing these core samples and making it available to our users online," she said. "And the product has been very well-received. Although it won't substitute for somebody actually coming in and physically looking at the rock, it will give them a first glance if that's what they want to see.

"We have five (University of North Dakota) students here who are currently doing the core photography and doing the thin section photography. It's kind of slick, because what the viewer does it was designed by one of our fellows in-house in Bismarck is it takes all of our images that we're creating in the back image-by-image, six inches at a time, and puts it all into a vertical view of the core on the side. And they can get a complete image of the core itself, and if they want to look at something similar up close, they can pull it up on the side screen and they can print it, put it into their project or whatever they need to use it for. It gives them a real quick overview.

"The other thing that we're doing is they have thin sections that companies have made, and not everybody has access to a microscope, so they're not always able to look at it. We check out our thin sections (like library books), but if they don't have a scope, it doesn't do them any good. So what we've done is set up this program and we're taking representative photos so that now instead of having to check out our thin sections, they can view them online. They still may have to check them out, but it gives you real quickly what a fine-grained rock we're dealing with with the Bakken.

"The other thing they do to these rocks is when they make the thin sections, which are 4 microns thick, they first put the chip of rock into a vacuum and set the chip of rock into a blue dye cement, and it sucks the blue up into the rock and fills in the void so that you can tell where you've got porosity. From that, geologists can take this information and hopefully put it into their model. Everything is done with the idea that they'll use it to drill wells within the state. And it seems to be working. There's a lot of pressure on some of the other states to actually do the same thing to their collections.

"North Dakota has been very proactive, and I think it attracts a lot of business for us, because we are (collecting). If the data's available and easy to get to, they're more likely to come and drill in the state. We have a lot of comments come back to us that they like working here because the data's so easily accessible. They pay for it, but it's not difficult to get a hold of.

LeFever said that she estimates that the NDGS currently has about 85,000 thin section photos available for viewing.

A trained eye for detail
LeFever said that a trained expert can learn a lot from examining rocks from a geological formation.

"After you look at them for a while, geologists can differentiate other things than just the gross changes," she said. "There's a lot of small, subtle changes that will occur within a certain section that the trained eye will pick up on, and they'll come in and look at them.

"Basically, you have a bunch of pieces and you're putting together a puzzle. So you have a well here that may have cut a core, then you have a well a few towns over that cut a core, and you're trying to interpret what those rocks are doing in between. And the more cores you have, the better that interpretation is going to be and the more complete the puzzle's going to be. It gets really intriguing.

"But the interesting thing with the Bakken, it's virtually the same everywhere. You have subtle variations, but I did a paper a few years ago with a group from Manitoba and a group from Saskatchewan, and we had cores laid out from all three areas and the same units were there.

"The Bakken is very, very uniform. The processes that were acting at the time it was being deposited was basin-wide. That's the thing that's a little more unique, that it's that widespread. And the more we know about it, the better off we are, and hopefully the more we know about it, the better we can get a handle on what it takes to drill it. That's why it always goes back to the rocks. The company geologists always have to come back in. A photograph only tells them so much. It may get them started, but it only tells them so much.

"A normal core they cut is 41/2 inches in diameter, and the state gets a portion of that. Usually we get what they call 'the butts.' The good part about that is you can do extra tests on it and still have something left.

The Bakken rock is roughly 360 million years old, she said. That's way before the dinosaurs were roaming around.

The core library has a laboratory on site, and LeFever said that people from all over the world have been in contact regarding usage of the facility.

"We ask that they to book ahead, so we know that they have table space. A lot of them like to be the only ones in, again for confidential status. We have a camera set up that they can use.

"Also, when we get the cores in that have not been 'slabbed,' usually from the smaller operators, we have the ability to cut them. You always see more in a core if it's slabbed versus simply pulled. Our slab saw cuts 3 feet at a time. It's fully automated, and we tend to baby it because the last I knew, its blades were running at about $1,200. So it cuts very slowly. And on a good blade, we can get about 55,000 feet of cut."

That's a lot of rocks
The core library warehouse itself is a sprawling room that looks like it would be comfortable holding jumbo jets.

"It's 18,000 square feet and I would guess about 18 feet high," LeFever said while looking skyward at the top of a massive shelving system holding literally thousands of boxes of rock samples.

"The first eight shelves are cores, the top two shelves are cuttings. The state requires cuttings from any well drilled in the state, unless there's some extenuating circumstance. Whether it's a development well or an exploratory well will determine where they start collecting those samples. If we request samples and they cut a core they're not required by state law to cut a core they are required to turn it in to us. We usually get half the core, usually the butts. We would prefer all of it, but most companies will hang on to a portion of it until they're done. They know that once they're done with it, say 10 years down the road, we'll take that sample. If it keeps it from going into the landfill, it's better to come here, because you never know what technology's around the bend and what new exploration technique might be used on old rocks.

"The more complete our collection, the better off we are. We have acquired a number of collections as companies close their own personal core facilities down, they will turn around and ask us if we want them. We'll take their samples provided they pay for the shipping and stuff. In the past, we've received Amerada's, we've received Shell's, we received Marathon's. That's kind of an ongoing process. That's all in part in a nationwide effort to take care of this stuff. Because once it's drilled, once it's cut, once it goes to the landfill, you're never going to drill and cut the same section again.

"So if you laid all of this head-to-head, we figure there's about 75 miles of core currently housed in this facility."

LeFever says the exact number of cuttings boxes escaped her "it's in the hundred thousands" but that there were about 115,000 thin sections that had been turned in to the office. She said the facility also houses water well samples, landfill samples, a few dinosaur bones that belong to the department, missile silo samples and some shallow exploration holes for cement rock and minerals "just kind of a whole variety of things. We try not to turn anything away if possible."

She said the core library is computerized just like a normal library.

"It's just like you walk into a library and you type in a title or an author," she said. "Here we can type in a license number or a well name, and find the shelf location and pull the exact core."

She said that a project to rebox the samples in order to stack them more efficiently, thus adding about 20 years to the life of the building. She said that the average box probably weighs about 30-40 pounds.

It's a source of pride for LeFever and rightfully so.

"We are probably one of the most complete facilities, if not the most complete facility, in the U.S.," she said. "And the reason I say that is because a lot of our oil and gas regulations were in place when oil was discovered, so we have wells that instead of having 30 years or 40 years of drilling activity with wells going to the landfills or into the mud pits, they were required before the drilling ever started. So we've got wells that go back before oil was discovered in the state.

"We're very complete in our collection."

04-16-08, 05:58 PM
idont its going to change anything.... like the article said, is our technology there yet.....?

04-16-08, 06:46 PM
There are 100s of billions of barrels of oil all over the world that are not economically recoverable with todays technology; Colorado shale, Athabascan shale, Atahabascan tar sands, Alaska heavy crude and oil sands. This North Dakota thing is nothing new. It just happened to make it back onto the radar screen and I'll bet there is some kind of promotion scheme behind it because the high price of crude is in the news. Fifty years ago there was talk of detonating nuclear explosions under goround to release oil from shale. These formations get rediscovered periodically as the price of crude goes up and down and the promotion schemes come and go.

04-17-08, 01:34 AM
Frankly... we, as a country need to sh!t or get off the pot.

We keep hearing that there's all of this potentially recoverable oil at out fingertips, yet the technology "might not be there yet." Aren't we supposed to be the most technologically advanced nation in the history of mankind? Maybe... just maybe, if we started spending just a fraction of what we're currently spending on any number of useless endeavors, we could surely get the technology "there" awfully quick. Then again.. it doesn't help that we seem to be in bed with a lot of people whose interests trend against the common welfare of the US... it also doesn't help that no one currently in power gives two craps that gas is inching towards $4 a gallon.

And now... even if the technology is there, we can't drill these sites because the rigs have gotten entirely too expensive? What the hell? We hand out subsidies for this, that, and everything else... why can't we subsidize these rigs at least for exploratory drilling?

Something's seriously got to give and we really need to start spending some serious money to find solutions. We have no problem throwing millions and billions of dollars at things which provide zilch to the common good of this country... so we should have no problem throwing the same at something which would benefit 300+ million Americans, and by extension - the rest of the world. In reality, we should be spending massive amounts on alternative sources such a fuel cells... on the cells itself, on the storage of hydrogen, and most importantly on the infrastructure needed to service such... but that's too outrageous of a proposition because it would put the oil companies on the endangered species list (and that's only because they're too stupid to realize that the first one to truly capitalize on such an infrastructure will become the richest company the world has ever seen.)

But if we're going to pretend to be incapable of doing such a thing... then we need pull out all the stops when it comes to domestic oil production. We need to drill more in Alaska... we need to get the technology up to snuff with regard to shale and tar sands... and we need to subsidize the research and subsequent drilling in places like North Dakota.

Our massive thirst for oil, especially foreign oil is this country's achilles heel... we might have been able to juggle it for a while longer, but our actions over the past several years have caused consequences which have made such a juggling act all but impossible. This is by far the biggest, most threatening problem this country has ever faced... far greater than the Civil War... far greater than the Great Depression... and far greater than terrorism. There's only one even bigger problem we need to overcome first..

And it's only going to get worse the longer we wait. We're damn near at $4 a gallon... our dollar is dropping as quickly as our debt is increasing... and we still remain largely indifferent to it all. It will be our own apathy... our own indifference as a population which will ultimately bring us down. But no one ever wants to admit that our current situation is no ones fault but our own.

04-17-08, 01:38 AM
I'm okay with not drilling. High energy costs motivate technological advancements.

I didn't say that while I was driving the Navigator or Q45, LOL

04-17-08, 06:21 AM
As a resident of Grand Forks Air Force Base and Rural Emerado for over 5 years (when I was younger) I am confident that no one will be smart enough to use this resource.
Afterall why spoil the untamed beauty that is North Dakota!

All kidding aside, I am sure some tree hugging peacenick will find a way to stop any advancement they could make out there to really help anyone.
They always do.

04-17-08, 07:45 AM
No offense to any of my neighboring North Dakotians..but, honestly, a bunch of oil wells would actually IMPROVE the landscape of North Dakota.

Regardless, and I've been accused more than once of being a "grassy knolls" kind of person, but I don't think there will be any new exploration for a while, mostly because there a lot of people making a LOT of money from the current "oil crisis" and the people with the money also have the most power.

Same thing with any new technology...

Lord Cadillac
04-17-08, 10:11 AM
A few more links in case anyone is interested:






04-17-08, 11:27 AM
Take one down... pass it around... 299 billion barrels of oil on the wall...

04-17-08, 12:24 PM
Alright, who wants to give me a summary of all that because no way am I reading it all. :D

04-17-08, 12:55 PM
Alright, who wants to give me a summary of all that because no way am I reading it all. :D
There's oil in N. Dakota. We can't get it. The End.

04-17-08, 01:04 PM
At least for now. High oil prices will justify the need for new technology and new investments, and we'll eventually be able to "tap that"

04-17-08, 02:18 PM
Tap that sweet farm country-flatlander ass.

04-17-08, 03:04 PM
Maybe you guys in the USA aren't drilling but in Saskatchewan, things are sure busy all of a sudden. They are doing horizontal drilling. ie drill down 10,000 ft and the kick the hole over to horizontal to drill along the 40 foot zone. Horizontal drilling is popular now. From one drilling base they should be able to drill a number of wells in all directions.
Many years ago I lived in Southern Sask and ran pipeline. All the wells back then were small production and I used to export about 10,000 barrels per day to US via 6" pipeline. Now, I'd imagine these new wells, once they are producing, will be a lot more productive.
Here in Alberta, drilling is slow. Companies producing oil are getting $110+ per barrel and drilling etc is real high priced. So the companies are just selling the oil and waiting for drilling costs to go down. Also doesn't help that the government increased royalty percentage that stopped a lot of activity right there.

04-17-08, 09:51 PM
Yes, the gas prices are kicking us in the head, individually and as a nation -- but there are a LOT of things we can do to lessen the impact:

TRANSITION -- All non-transportation related energy should be moved away from oil. Whether it's solar, coal, hydro, wind, whatever.

INNOVATE -- we should be exploring and MASSIVELY investing in all of these alternative fuels. Shale and sands are now viable due to the cost per barrel, but they're not immediate. Biofuels from switchgrass (I think that's what it's called) would be a great opportunity since they can be grown in wasteland areas and not drive up food prices. Fuel cells/hydrogen, expand on hybrids (including semis), etc....These will eventually be market driven, but the gov't could expedite things w/tax incentives.

DRILL MORE OIL -- the Chinese and Mexicans are drilling all around us, but the environmentalists sue to stop our companies from drilling in the same places. The oil companies should use some of their hundreds of billions in profits and keep these menace mongers tied up in court in countersuits until they're bled dry from legal bills. Oh, and screw the caribou, and expand in Alaska.

REFINE MORE OIL -- (see "DRILL MORE OIL" re: the environmental menace mongers)

REGULATE LESS -- We can also cut gas taxes and cut these stupid regional and seasonal formulations -- this would drop the price per gallon tremendously. Even if some of the more expensive formulations had to be used in areas where they weren't necessary, the standardization would help compensate for the cost and the market would eventually adjust.

USE LESS -- I could be stepping on some toes here...nothing personal, but maybe people shouldn't drive 50 miles one way to work, and if they do -- maybe they should move or quit complaining about how much gas costs. Maybe companies should take the lead and let employees telecommute a couple of days a week. If someone wants -- then get a car that gets better mileage. Or if it's an option, take public transit part of the time. Or carpool. Expand the use of trains instead of having a semi take a full truckload of something all the way across the country. (I'm including myself here -- I drive 36000 miles/year but work 3 miles from home. I choose to drive a lot and I choose to drive 3 thirsty vehicles -- so I really don't have room to complain.)

The point is that none of these things are the one and only solution. We have to improve in every area possible, because China and India and a whole slew of third world countries are going to keep driving the demand for oil.

04-17-08, 10:35 PM
THere's no conflict between oil drilling and caribou in Alaska except in somebody's imagination. That's all a big myth. There are more tons of mosquitos per square mile in ANWAR than any other creature that lives there.