ND Petroleum Council president welcomes new USGS assessment of the Williston Basin

Dec 13, 2017

The president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council said he welcomes the US Geological Survey’s plans to conduct a comprehensive, broad-based resource estimate for the Williston Basin.

Ron Ness said when the USGS did a similar study in 2013, the estimate of recoverable oil at that time from the Bakken and Three Forks formations more than doubled, from 3.6 billion barrels to 7.4 billion barrels.

"Now, we hope the USGS goes back to look at the entire basin, and then do an assessment of all the other horizons," Ness said. "There are up to 19 producing formations in the Williston Basin."

Ness said that means USGS needs to look at new enhance oil recovery techniques.

"That is something that on Wall Street and in other places, the investment potential in the Basin has somewhat been sidestepped, because investors are looking at the Permean Basin in Texas, where there are a lot of opportunities," Ness said. "Hopefully, this assessment will show all the opportunities in the Willston Basin."

Ness said as technology improves, more oil can be recovered. And he said these assessments have been important as a tool to help attract investors.

"We're not just talking about investors in drilling wells," Ness said. "We're talking about investors into hotels, retail and real estate."

Ness said as investors determine how long the play can last, the more they will look at the Williston Basin.

"A stamp of approval by the USGS calling it a world class resource -- that's what we're hoping for," Ness said.