A Look Ahead for ND Oil Production | VideoJennifer Joas | 1/1/2013
2013 will be a year to better understand hydraulic fracturing.
"They have been going after it really in more or less a brute force approach up to this point, of adding stages, adding water, adding proppant. And now they want to start to really refine that and achieve greater oil recovery but use less material," said Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms.
Companies such as Breitling Oil & Gas are also looking into minimizing environmental impacts. It plans to release a formula for a fracking fluid that has fewer chemicals.
"We really feel like though, we take all the precautions necessary, triple casing, cement, protect the aquifer as we drill. But, mistakes could happen and a surface spill could occur. We want folks to feel like it does not matter what the outcome of the situation is, even if it was to get into your aquifer it is not a concern anymore," said CEO Chris Faulkner.
In addition to optimizing the fracking process, companies are still working to speed up the drilling process. Walking rigs were introduced in 2012, but now Continental Resources is working to develop a rig that can walk along with all of its electric generation.
But all this technology comes with added infrastructure challenges. "Less intense drilling activity, less trucks than we had in the first half of this year, a lot of road construction, a lot of apartment and single family home construction and a lot of pipeline construction. Really, a tremendous amount of pipeline needs to be built," Helms said.
Two crude oil pipelines are expected to come online in early 2013. And in addition to needing crude oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines are just as necessary in the Bakken. Experts say that is the only way flaring will decrease below 30 percent.
"I think the goal for everyone, the operators, the state, the mineral owners is to get that number down significantly. And again the only way to do that is to get additional gathering systems and gas processing plants built," said Justin Kringstad with the ND Pipeline Authority.
Helms says 2013 will bring many opportunities, and he expects oil production to increase to 830,000 barrels per day by mid 2013 and 850,000 barrels per day by the end of the year. He adds that the only foreseeable force that could derail the Bakken`s success in 2013 would be more stringent fracking regulations set by the Federal Government.