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US Senator Heidi Heitkamp and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Heitkamp, Hoeven Presses USGS to Perform New Study of Oil & Gas in Bakken

by Jason Spiess, The Crude Life Media Network

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp said that a decision by U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) to conduct an updated assessment of oil and gas resources in the Bakken Formation and Three Forks Formation is a needed step, which comes after she pressed USGS to take such action.

Last week, Heitkamp called on USGS Acting Director William Werkheiser to conduct a more updated assessment of the region as the last assessment was completed in 2013. Until the decision by USGS today, the next assessment wasn’t supposed to take place until 2020. Heitkamp made the case that USGS should conduct an assessment sooner than 2020 because past assessments reinforced that dramatically more oil and natural gas were available at the time because of updated technologies.

“After pressing USGS to move up its timeline, it’s encouraging the agency is going to conduct a new assessment of oil and natural gas in the western part of the state sooner than it had planned,” said Heitkamp. “The most recent USGS survey of the Bakken region in 2013 more than doubled the estimated mean resources for technically recoverable oil and natural gas. And just in the past four years since then, our state has continued to be at the forefront of the development of innovative energy technologies, and it’s likely such a survey will show even more recoverable oil and natural gas is available in the region. A new USGS survey will help provide more updated data so our state can continue to lead in energy development, investment, and innovation.”

Senator John Hoeven, a member of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Energy Appropriations Committee, said that the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will conduct a comprehensive, broad-based resource estimate for the Williston Basin. The USGS notified Hoeven today that it will undertake the analysis as a result of a meeting he hosted in Bismarck with USGS Acting Director William Werkheiser. Hoeven brought Werkheiser to the state to hear firsthand from energy leaders about the latest data, geological surveys and technical achievements in the oil field.

“Our state’s energy industry continues to develop new and innovative ways to produce more energy with better environmental stewardship,” said Hoeven. “With these innovations come new assumptions about oil production in the Williston Basin. That’s why our producers made a strong case for this new USGS study. We appreciate the USGS taking a comprehensive look at the region as they work with the State and industry to update the estimate of recoverable oil.”

Hoeven spearheaded a similar effort that resulted in the latest USGS study from 2013, which more than doubled the estimates of technically recoverable oil at that time, from 3.65 billion barrels to 7.4 billion barrels.

The most recent USGS survey of the Bakken region in 2013 more than doubled the estimated mean resources for technically recoverable oil to 7.38 billion barrels, which included an estimated 6.7 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. Since mid-2014, in part because of the drop in the price of oil, the industry has been particularly innovative with its development and production to stay competitive, which has led to lower costs and more extraction.

In addition, Hoeven continues working through the Appropriations Committee to support federal research programs that empower producers to get more out of oil and gas wells, while also reducing the environmental footprint of drilling. To this end, the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2018 energy funding bill includes $26 million for enhanced oil recovery research, a $6 million increase over the previous year.

Click here to read the letter Heitkamp sent to USGS on December 8.