You may never have heard of the Bakken Formation. It sounds like something out of some strange science fiction movie. It’s not. In fact it may be one of the biggest discoveries of our lifetimes. It’s already the single biggest discovery of oil in United States history. We don’t know everything about it, except that people of all ages are taking advantage of oil under American soil at a time when job opportunities are hard to come by.
Oil is what makes the world tick. Wars are fought over it. Families rely on it. Economies can’t function without it. Oil may be the world’s single greatest natural resource. In the Bakken Formation of western North Dakota, oil is flowing. Two miles beneath the rolling amber waves of grain, is an ocean of oil that has only recently been discovered. It’s called the Bakken Formation, and it has the potential to reshape the world.
The Bakken Formation has been around longer than humans, but was first found by a geologist in the 1950s. It has only become accessible in the last few years, as oil-drilling technology has advanced. The Bakken Formation dates back to the Late Devonian to Early Mississippian eras. It covers an area of about 200,000 square miles. The majority of the Bakken Formation lies under North Dakota, but it stretches into neighboring Montana and across international borders into the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
The oil in the Bakken Formation is predicted to contain anywhere from 3 to 4.3 billion barrels of oil. The sea of oil is sandwiched between two hard layers of shale that lie approximately two miles underground. The shale is incredibly hard and until new developments in drilling technology, the oil has been impossible to extract. But now it can be and lots of people can take advantage of this oil marvel called the Bakken Formation.
The majority of the Bakken oil is underneath a geological feature called the Williston Basin, which spreads across North Dakota, Montana, and Saskatchewan. Oil was first discovered in the Williston Basin in the 1920s. But with the new technology of horizontal drilling, the amount of oil in the Bakken oil fields is finally being realized. The rock beneath the earth in this area is prone to horizontal fractures, which helps with horizontal, or directional, drilling. The current predictions of 3 to 4.3 billion barrels of oil could be significantly increased with more research and an increase in better drilling technologies. Some optimistic predictions estimate that over 200 billion barrels of oil are present in the Bakken Formation. This geological phenomenon is just oozing with liquid gold.
While no one really knows how much oil is floating between the shale of the Bakken Formation, they do know that people are getting rich quick. It is predicted that you could put an oil well just about anywhere in the Williston Basin and hit oil in the Bakken Formation. It seems that with horizontal drilling there is no end to the amount of oil one can find – and that means ongoing employment opportunities.
Oil wells are being built across the Bakken Formation for good reason. National grasslands are being reclaimed to put in new wells. With an estimated $475 billion of oil floating 15,000 feet beneath the surface of the Bakken Formation, there is plenty of money to be made. The average salary for an oil worker on the Bakken is $75,000 per year (varies based on skills and abilities, job type).
There is an amazing amount of oil in the Bakken Formation. It is the largest accumulation in the entire Lower 48. It’s mind-boggling and technology is just now able to tap it. The Bakken Formation may even contain more oil than Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, plus drilling in the Bakken Formation is much less controversial.
The discovery of the untold amounts of oil that are waiting for us in the Bakken Formation is a complete stroke of luck. The Bakken Formation is generating a lot of positive buzz for all the right reasons. It’s the opportunity we’ve all been waiting. If you’re ready to get after it and start a long solid career drilling the Bakken Formation, you should be excited about the job opportunities available.