Bright future: North Dakota officials project Bakken production through 2100
DUNN CENTER — The boom is here to stay.
Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, spoke about the state’s biggest industry at the sixth annual Bakken Rocks CookFest here on Thursday afternoon.
“Your grandchildren’s children will be sitting in these chairs,” Helms said at the informational session.
The commission also predicts that oil development will stay level through 2025, hovering slightly above 1 million barrels of production every day, Helms said.
By 2100, Helms estimated that 100,000 barrels of oil would be produced per day.
If new technology allows more oil to be extracted from Bakken shale and more investment floods to the state, that trend might last even longer, he said.
For instance, six more oil-rich layers of rock exist below the Bakken shale, which is only now being tapped, Helms said. Tapping into these layers may drive development operations east from the state’s current oil-producing counties.
Even a 1 percent increase in the efficiency of extraction processes would produce at least one billion more barrels of oil, said oilfield geologist and speaker Kathy Neset.
Kermit Nordsven of Belfield, who attended the session, said he is resigned to accept the changes across the state.
“It’s hard for me to believe it’s going to be bigger yet,” Nordsven said.
Helms also outlined state future regulatory goals aimed at containing more oil spills.
Spills at extraction sites and pipelines have steadily increased statewide with more wells, Helms said. But diking and construction rules have also caused a rise in contained spills.
“Imagine spilling red wine in your dinner tray. Not such a big mess,” Helms said. “Spill it on your white carpet and you have a real mess. We want to contain the oil in the same sense.”
The state’s goal is restricting uncontained spills to one in every 10 by mid-2015, he said.
The commission also hopes to restrict oil development infrastructure to a half percent of the state’s total land. This can mean innovations like grouping wells closer together, while fracking deeper rock formations, according to documents available at the presentation.
Other speakers addressed regulatory challenges associated with billions of barrels of oil production.
North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness used the public forum to argue against the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment, which supporters are trying to get on ballots statewide in the November general election.
The amendment would devote 5 percent of the state’s oil extraction tax to grants for water quality, natural flood control, fish and wildlife habitat parks and outdoor recreation areas.
Ness said he opposes the measure because 75 percent money it would generate would need to be spent every year under the proposal.
That would mean $225 million would be spent annually on conservation measures, leaving a lack of flexibility for other important issues, he said.
“Everybody else has to go to the Legislature to fight for their funding,” Ness said. “We need to defeat this measure.”
Following the presentation, the CookFest drew hundreds of visitors, driven by free food and swag offered by energy companies and other area businesses.
McKenzie County Commissioner Roger Chinn expressed disbelief at the turnout for the event..
“Who would have thought we’d be riding a shuttle bus through Dunn Center to go hear about oil?” Chinn said.