The Shale Boom Never Ends

Shale may be critical to the future of the jobs market and the overall U.S. economy. If these observations are true, the conclusions regarding them just got another boost. There is more shale in America than has been reported in years past. Based on how figures recently were revised upward, the supply, according to details of government estimates, could rise again and again.

The Bakken Formation and the Three Forks Formation, which spread across the northern Plains States, are among the largest discovered in America. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) says of Bakken and Three Forks:

[A]n updated oil and gas resource assessment for the Bakken Formation and a new assessment for the Three Forks Formation in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. The assessments found that the formations contain an estimated mean of 7.4 billion barrels (BBO) of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil. The updated assessment for the Bakken and Three Forks represents a twofold increase over what has previously been thought.

The USGS assessment found that the Bakken Formation has an estimated mean oil resource of 3.65 BBO and the Three Forks Formation has an estimated mean resource of 3.73 BBO, for a total of 7.38 BBO, with a range of 4.42 (95 percent chance) to 11.43 BBO (5 percent chance). This assessment of both formations represents a significant increase over the estimated mean resource of 3.65 billion barrels of undiscovered oil in the Bakken Formation that was estimated in the 2008 assessment.


“The USGS undertook this assessment of the Bakken and Three Forks Formations as part of a nationwide project assessing U.S. petroleum basins using standardized methodology and protocol,” said Acting Director of the USGS Suzette Kimball. “Through this improved understanding of our energy resources, government, industry, and citizens are better able to understand our domestic energy mix and make wiser decisions for the future.”

In other words, more assessments could mean more discoveries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a study of the effects of shale production on jobs and wages in North Dakota. And IHS has forecast that shale exploration and production could add 870,000 jobs to the national economy by 2015. However, if shale discoveries continue at the present pace, the new data and forecasts could be out of date already, and the shale boom could be more than extraordinary.

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