Beneath southeastern Saskatchewan, southwestern Manitoba, North Dakota and Montana lies an estimated $9 trillion worth of high grade oil. This massive oil reserve is located in the Bakken Formation. The Bakken Formation oil reserves is possibly the largest conventional oil discovery in Canada since 1957. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), there may be as many as 503 billion barrels of oil in the Bakken Formation.
In 1999 it was estimated that the Bakken Formation contains between 271 and 503 billion barrels of petroleum, with 413 billion barrels being the most likely amount. In comparison the low estimated reserves (271 barrels) of the Bakken Formation is more than double the 125 billion barrels at the massive Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia. Compared to the 7.8 billion at Alberta’s Pembina Cardium and 21.4 billion for the entire U.S. reserves, the Bakken Formation oil reserves is a phenomenal find. If this oil formation plays out towards the higher end of size and recoverability then it will change the geopolitics of oil and the economies of the United States and Canada.
Not only is the oil plentiful, but it’s reported to be high quality too, 41 degree light sweet crude. In contrast to that which comes from Alberta’s oil sands, the oil from the Bakken is “liquid and free of water, sulphur and other impurities.”
Is the Bakken oil being extracted? According to the Saskatchewan Energy and Resources it is. For 2004 production was 278,540 barrels. For 2007 production was 4,965,000 barrels. Saskatchewan has the hottest housing market in all of Canada. Saskatchewan is booming.
Mean undiscovered volumes of 3.65 billion barrels of oil, 1.85 trillion cubic feet of associated/dissolved natural gas and 148 million barrels of natural gas liquids in the Bakken Formation of the Williston Basin Province, Montana and North Dakota,” can be unearthed using current technology ~ according to the results of a study released by the USGS in April 2008.
A similar study by North Dakota reported that there are about 167 billion barrels of oil under the state, of which 2.1 billion barrels are recoverable with current technology.
As for the total amount of oil under Canadian soil no one is sure. When the US released their estimates of between 271 billion and 503 billion barrels, they didn’t include Canada, because the US didn’t expect to find any oil that far north. The fact that Saskatchewan has already produced five million barrels a year since 2007 indicates that the United States may have underestimated the amount by a significant amount. According to the Saskatchewan Energy and Resources – “About 25 per cent of the Bakken is in Saskatchewan. So it stands to reason that 25 per cent of the oil is too.”
If Saskatchewan is already producing 5 million barrels of oil a year from the Bakken Formation and the potential is there to extract as much as 271 billion barrels why are gas prices so high? Why is Canada participating in a war of aggression against another oil producing nation – Libya – when we clearly have more than 6 times more oil than Libya? Libya holds an estimated 46.4 billion barrels of oil reserves. The Bakken Formation holds more oil than the proven oil reserves in Saudi Arabia – estimated to be 267 billion barrels.
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