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May 19, 2011 8:20 PM by Jay Kohn - Q2 News

USGS plans new assessment of Bakken oil formation

WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says beginning this fall the U-S Geological Survey will begin to update its assessment of how much recoverable oil is in the Bakken oil formation in eastern Montana and western North Dakota.

In 2008, the USGS estimated there was between 3 billion to 4.3 billion barrels of undiscovered, recoverable oil in the formation, elevating it to a "world class" accumulation. Now, thanks to new scientific information, the Department says a new assessment is warranted.

"The new information is significant enough for the evaluation to being sooner than it normally would," said Brenda Pierce, USGS Energy Resources Program Coordinator. "It's important to look at this resource and its potential contribution to the national energy portfolio," added Pierce.

Pierce says the new assessment will begin as soon as this October. Depending on funding, it's expected to take two years to complete. Drilling and production will continue while the USGS conducts its assessment update.

The 2008 Bakken formation estimate was larger than all other current USGS oil assessments in the lower 48 states, and it is the largest continuous oil accumulation ever assessed by the USGS.

The 2008 USGS assessment showed a 25-fold increase in the amount of technically recoverable oil as compared to the agency's 1995 estimate of 151 million barrels of oil.

According to North Dakota statistics, oil production from the Bakken in North Dakota has steadily increased from 28 million barrels in 2008 - to 50 million barrels in 2009, to approximately 86 million barrels last year.

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