Will Bakken be one of the 7 biggest oil fields ever?

I’m so wet behind the ears that it isn’t funny, so its no surprise I’m constantly amazed at new info on Bakken, like the potentially huge size of the Bakken field.

John Kemp in a Reuters article asks Is Bakken Set to Rival Ghawar?

Some background:

Ghawar is producing around six million barrels of oil per day (bopd).

Many people think Bakken is approaching the point of having a million bopd of output. I’ve been tracking those estimates as I stumble across them.

Here’s Mr Kemp’s estimate:

But Bakken’s exponential growth and enormous reserves put it on course to produce more than 1 million barrels per day by the middle of next year, which will earn it a place in the small pantheon of truly elite oil fields.

He later puts a specific point estimate:

If growth continues at this pace for the next 12 months, and there is no reason to think it won’t, production will top 1 million barrels a day by August 2013.

The superstar fields

For perspective, a million bopd would put Bakken in the big time.

The article gives the line-up of the superstar league:

Ghawar is one of only six super-giant oil fields that have produced more than 1 million barrels per day at their peak. Others are Burgan (Kuwait), Cantarell (Mexico), Daqing (China) and in the 1970s and 1980s Samotlor (Russia) and Kirkuk (Iraq).

I did a bit of research. Wikipedia lists the discovery date of the above six superstars as:

  • Kirkuk  – 1927
  • Burgan  – 1938
  • Ghawar – 1948, on stream 1951
  • Daqing – 1959
  • Samotlor – 1965
  • Cantarell – 1976

Three of those were discovered after Ghawar and none since the mid ‘70s.

Here’s where another comparison enters.

The potential reserves are astounding:

Bakken contains about 577 billion barrels of oil and gas, of which about 24 billion barrels should be technically recoverable, according to Continental. But underneath Bakken in the same area is the Three Forks formation, which Continental believes could contain an even greater 900 billion barrels, of which perhaps 32 billion barrels might be technically recoverable.

Other articles suggest some huge recoverable amounts which are in the range of the recoverable oil in Ghawar.  I will only mention the above comment and not go further.  To do so heads into numbers too big for me to write about at the moment.

Let’s just say the potential in Bakken is astounding.

By the way, the second number mentioned is additive, not cumulative….

(Million Dollar Way has more discussion of the potential in Bakken in this post. Check it out for some big numbers.)

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