America is sitting on top of a super massive 200 billion barrel Oil Field that could potentially make America energy independent and until now has largely gone unnoticed. Thanks to new technology the Bakken Formation in North Dakota could boost America’s Oil reserves by an incredible 10 times, giving western economies the trump card against OPEC’s short squeeze on oil supply and making Iranian and Venezuelan threats of disrupted supply irrelevant.
The new technology is a combination of what I had talked about in this post. There are some differences, but the main drilling is the same. The main idea is to 'turn the drill hole horizontal'. In the case of the new find, this is necessary because the oil is about two miles below a lake created by the Federal Government for water storage in the 1950s, Lake Sakakawae. The fracturing is an added feature designed to add contact area between the drill hole and the oil reservoir, not needed at this particular oil find.
However it's done, the find is looking huge. The oil reservoir was known to exist some time back, but drilling technology wouldn't allow for exploitation, drilling would have to be done in Lake Sakakawae, which could pollute the water. But slant drilling two miles under the lake is not going to disturb the water or effect water quality.
How big is this? Really really big. As much as 10 times the proven reserves of the USA -- With new horizontal drilling technology it is believed that from 175 to 500 billion barrels of recoverable oil are held in this 200,000 square mile reserve. Today Saudi Arabia has about 260 billion barrels proven reserves.
AP story is here.