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Does the Bakken Formation contain more oil than Saudi Arabia?


Probably not. In 2000, the USGS assessed undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas in Saudi Arabia at 87 billion barrels (USGS 2000 World Petroleum Assessment ) compared to a mean estimate of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil in the Bakken formation of 7.4 billion barrels.  In addition, Saudi Arabia contains even more oil that has already been found, which is reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration as current proven oil reserves.


But it is worth keeping in mind that there is no certain method to determine the exact volume of oil that is contained in the Bakken Formation or any formation.  The Bakken Formation oil resource is much different than the oil resources of Saudi Arabia.  The Bakken oil resource is what we refer to as a “continuous” or unconventional resource, whereas the oil resources being produced in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries are conventional resources.  “Continuous” or unconventional resources require more technical drilling and recovery methods that are much more costly and the oil recoveries per well are commonly much lower than in a conventional resource  accumulation.  However, the estimate of technically recoverable oil in the Bakken Formation is larger than all other current USGS oil assessments of the lower 48 states and is the largest "continuous" oil accumulation ever assessed by the USGS.


A "continuous" oil accumulation means that the oil resource is dispersed throughout a geologic formation rather than existing as discrete, localized occurrences, such as those in conventional accumulations.    


Learn more: USGS National Oil and Gas Assessment (choose Williston Basin in the map to see all available documents and links).


Tags: Natural Resources, Energy, Gas, Oil, Bakken, Continuous Oil