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EIA projects Bakken Shale will reach a million barrels a day by end of year

One of the hot spots of the U.S. oil boom, the Bakken Shale, is about to take on a new glow: pumping a million barrels of crude a day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The EIA says oil companies in the Bakken, which is located primarily in North Dakota, will reach the million-barrel milestone in December, up from an estimated 976,000 barrels in November.

Drillers are spending about $16 billion in the Bakken this year, according to research firm Wood Mackenzie. Among them: Continental Resources Inc., whose chairman, Harold Hamm, told investors last week the company has an “an ears back plan” to develop in the Bakken.


Getty Images – Glen Crabtree, a floor hand for Raven Drilling, smiles while drilling for oil in the Bakken shale formation


“For those of you who didn’t grow up on a farm like I did, a horse running ears back is just going all out,” Hamm said. “So you need to hang on pretty tight.”

Another U.S. oil field, the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, hit the million-barrels-a-day milestone in May of this year, according to the EIA data. The Permian Basin — the massive field in Texas that’s been the foundation for U.S. oil production for decades – got there in May 2011.

But the rosy outlook for U.S. crude production won’t last forever, warns the International Energy Agency. In its 2013 World Energy Outlook, released this week, the IEA says the U.S. is expected to overtake Russia and Saudi Arabia in oil production by 2015, but that output would plateau around 2020 and then begin a slow decline after 2025.

Corrections & Amplifications: The Bakken Shale is about to reach average daily oil production of one million barrels. An earlier version of this article said it would produce one million barrels per month.

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