Oil Production to Keep Increasing | VideoMichelle San Miguel | 2/25/2012
It`s unclear just how much oil sits underneath the state`s 15,000 square miles of Bakken oil play. The state estimates the Bakken contains somewhere between seven to nine billion barrels of recoverable oil, but some geologists believe there`s even more oil underneath what`s currently being drilled.
"This is an industry that reinvents itself every 10 years or so, so it`s conceivable that future generations will be producing Bakken oil as well," said Lynn Helms, director of the state`s Department of Mineral Resources.
But there are many people living in oil country who would like the state to slow down oil production until infrastructure has caught up. Helms says it`s not the state`s job to speed up or slow down production, but to manage it.
"The state is not what`s driving, you know, the desire to get the oil and produce it now. It`s mineral owners who own those minerals in western North Dakota and they leased those minerals to oil companies," Helms said.
"They`re protecting the oil companies interest and if you read what they`re supposed to do, they`re supposed to protect the people of North Dakota," said Donny Nelson of the Dakota Resource Council.
Donny Nelson is a farmer and rancher from McKenzie County. While he`s profiting somewhat from oil, he`d still like to see production pulled back. "My family gets oil income. We`ve had oil on our land since 1953. We never got nothing but headaches until lately. We do get some oil income now," Nelson said.
Williston Mayor Ward Koeser would also like oil production to decrease for some time, but he says the city will deal with the cards that it`s been dealt. "The longer that this oil activity continues, the better off we are because there are more and more wells being drilled, more and more permanent jobs being created."
Every well that`s drilled creates one permanent job. About 6,500 wells are producing in the state.
All indications point to even more oil activity this year. The state expects to produce close to 650,000 barrels of oil a day by the end of the year.
"I think that we finally reached a point where we kind of know where the Bakken`s at and now the infrastructure will start to work it`s way back in toward the middle. And that`s been a big issue. We just didn`t know where it ended," said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council.
NBC North Dakota News will have much more on this story and many others in a one-hour special airing Wednesday, Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. Be sure to watch as we highlight the opportunities and challenges brought on by the Bakken.