For more than 20 years, the government and some oil companies knew there was oil in the Bakken Basin, although at that time, the technology required to drill and harvest the oil reserves under the Bakken was not yet developed. Bakken has a wide layer of rock which traditional oil drilling techniques cannot penetrate. When it failed to produce oil for prospectors, it was abandoned in the '90s in search for better oil prospects...until Dick Findley, a petroleum geologist based a few miles outside Sidney, Montana, made a groundbreaking discovery.
Mapping the Oil Basin
The Bakken Shale Oil Formation that was discovered by Findley is considered by the UnitedStates Geological Survey (USGS) as the largest continuous oil reserve ever assessed by the agency. By 'continuous', it means the reserve is spread out geographically like an underground pool across states, as opposed to large or small pockets of localized oil reserves.
At present, there are several companies drilling at the Bakken Shale Oil Formation. Below is just a partial list, along with their location and acreage, as well as other details such as number of operated oil drilling rigs and average production in BOEPD (barrels of oil equivalent per day).
These are just some of the biggest companies currently operating the Bakken area. For more information, you can refer to the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources - Oil and Gas Division and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation - Board of Oil and Gas Conservation.
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