Bakken shale

The Bakken and underlying Three Forks formation are part of the Williston Basin, a reservoir covering 38.000 square kilometers (approximately 15.000 square miles). It lies mostly under western North Dakota, but it reaches into eastern Montana, northwestern South Dakota and Saskatchewan in Canada. The size of the Williston Basin equals 10% of the size of Norway.

Unlike many oil-producing basins around the world, the Williston Basin is as flat as a pancake – actually flatter. The main producing reservoir, the Middle Bakken, is sandwiched between two organic-rich shale layers – the Upper and Lower Bakken.

Directly beneath the Bakken shales lies the Three Forks formation, another important reservoir. Operators are currently drilling almost as many Three Forks wells as Bakken wells, significantly increasing the resource base of the Williston Basin.

Geologists have known about the oil-rich shales in the Williston Basin since the 1950’s. However, over the last decade, improved technologies in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have made extracting large volumes of oil economically viable.

Named after a Norwegian-American farmer in North Dakota who owned the land where the formation was initially discovered, the Bakken today is home to one of the world’s fastest-growing and most important oil fields.

Statoil in Bakken

In 2011, Statoil acquired Brigham Exploration, a leading player in this massive oil play, and became a major operator in the Williston Basin. Statoil now holds approximately 330,000 net acres in the play.

The asset also has an extensive gathering system to transport and market the resources, including three operating oil facilities, seven operating saltwater disposal facilities, approximately 700 miles of pipeline and ten unit trains.

Additional facilities and pipeline are planned to further support operations in the Bakken and maximize value.