The World Has a bunch of oil! Don’t believe the hype. Just ask North Dakota, where they might fight


Bakken Map

Bakken Map

When one thinks about oil producing states in the United States, Texas, Alaska, California, Oklahoma and Louisiana might come to mind.  But, rarely does North Dakota enter the conversation except by those who keep up with such things or perhaps those who live in the area.  North Dakota is home to a relatively new oil field known as the Bakken.  It is some two miles below the surface and is within a shale layer.  There is much controversy regarding the potential of the Bakken.  Over the years, the reserve estimates have varied but most recently, data suggested some 200 to 300 billion barrels. The area is underneath some 25,000 sq miles in North Dakota and Montana and the US Geological Survey says its the largest continuous accumulation ever assessed.  After that debate, there is the one regarding how much is actually recoverable with published estimates ranging from the low end of 3%-10%, to the middle of 18% and the 50% high end.  Still, its a big find and encompasses much of the western half of the state.  Now, there’s potentially a lot more.

Proved versus recoverable or unconventional world oil reserves

Proved versus recoverable or unconventional world oil reserves

Underneath the Bakken is a bunch of sand and porous rock known as the Three Forks Sanish formation and some estimate the amount of the new oil discovery is equal to or greater than Bakken.  Studies continue and there is the question as to whether or not it is a different formation or if it is sorta a catch sink for the Bakken above.  Either way, it’s amazing to see how new oil reserves continue to be found in the United States.  The truth is that no one knows how much oil is in the ground.  Given that the media seems to incorrectly trumpet  that we are running out of oil, it does seem to be odd that more continues to be found.  But, its not. New technologies develop and more continues to be found in places that were once thought to be void. We aren’t running out of oil…we are running out of oil that is inexpensive to recover.  Remember, when we hear of the oil supply, it is “known reserves”  or “proved reserves” that are quoted. There is a bunch of proved global oil reserves.   There is also much to be learned and this is another example of the arrogance of man thinking that he knows everything when, in fact, we know very little.  In science, often there are no absolutes and what is thought to be scientific fact today may be fiction tomorrow, or today’s fiction may become tomorrow’s fact.  It’s why the Global Warming debate should not be stifled, ended, dismissed or politicized.

Fightin' Bill

Fightin' Bill

If the oil story in the northern plains became politically heated, then perhap they should call on the ghost of North Dakota Governor William “Fightin’ Bill” Langer.  I guess they like to fight in North Dakota as they can’t even decide on the state nickname.  It’s known as the “Peace Garden State” the “Flickertail State” and the “Roughrider State.”  The Roughrider state seems to suits this story because On This Date in 1934  Fightin’ Bill did his fighting like a real American. He declared independence! See, he was a hard charging Republican depression-era governor who liked to tell good stories with funny anecdotes. He had a way of not just inspiring loyalty, but also demanding it of the state employees. They were required to turn over a percentage of their pay checks to his political machine. There was a snag and that was part of their salaries came from the Federal Government. By 1934, the Executive Branch of the Federal Government was run by Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt who was partisan enough to change the name of the Hoover Dam to the Boulder Dam out of spite for Herbert Hoover. So, Fightin’ Bill was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Moodie celebrated as Guv for just 5 weeks

Moodie celebrated as Guv for just 5 weeks

Langer was convicted but refused to resign his post, instead choosing to barricade himself in his office. He tossed a spittoon through a window, unilaterally declared that North Dakota was independent from the United States and declared martial law. He finally gave in when the state supreme court said he had no standing as governor and Lt. Governor Olson took over. Undeterred, he came back. He got his wife nominated for Governor against Democrat Tom Moodie. She lost but five days after Moodie took over, Langer played his last card. He made it known that Moodie had voted in another state less than five years prior, therefore making him ineligible for office! Moodie resigned and the Lt. Governor took over. North Dakota had four governors in 7 months.

Saturday Evening

Saturday Evening

Weather Bottom Line:  Remember two days ago the SPC had a severe outlook for our area on Thursday? Then they suddenly changed their mind.  Well, it turned out to be correct but we did get the t’storms early this morning with the arrival of the secondary boundary.  Probably a half inch of rain.  Snow White is rather upset with me because a bunch of kids whom she volunteers for from the Cabbage Patch Settlement House were camping out.  She asked me if they would get rained on yesterday evening.  I absent mindingly was thinking about the evening and not all night, so I said no.  Hope the kids weren’t too frightened.  Anyway, drier air will move in and the trof still looks like it will dig way South.  Expect glorious weather through the weekend with highs in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s.  From the map above, which is for Saturday evening, you see a big blue H near us but also, some indications of rain around us.  The long wave pattern is again something you see in the winter and not in the summer so there will be trofs rotating around a low in the Great Lakes.  In the winter, that would typically produce off and on clouds with periodic snow showers or flurries.  In this case, I suspect that the atmosphere will be too dry to produce rain but will probably make a few clouds. So don’t sweat it.  I wouldnt’ be surprised to see some folks only in the low 70’s on Saturday, depending on the variability of the clouds.  I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some upper 40’s overnight in the extreme north  if the night were to be clear.  Timing issues will determine that.  We stay below average temperature wise into the middle of next week, though temperatures will be moderating.

2 Responses

  1. The Bakken formation is NOT new by any stretch of the imagination. It was discovered in 1951 and has been very well documented since that time. Though it contains a huge amount of oil, that oil is spread out thinly over such a large area, that the best concentrations of oil in this formation contain the average energy density of a potato. That’s why it has never amounted to anything and probably never will. Yes, there is lots of undiscovered oil in the earth, but all the places where it can be retrieved economically are well documented, well mapped and very well exploited.

  2. YES..I KNOW…read for content. It’s the Three Forks discovery that is new. If you read carefully, you would see that I said that the Bakken field is known as they’ve already come up with estimates. Further, the documentation provided has the history of the field. Further, they are already recovering some oil from the Bakken and the amounts are increasing. Again, if you read the data, there is much speculation on how much is actually recoverable…some say 3-10% while others say 50%. Its in the article and the data links. Thanx for writing though

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