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Golden Valley Co. sees Red River oil development

North Dakotans and North Dakota transplants might be "rockin' the Bakken" or drinking Chateau de Bakken wine, but the Bakken isn't the only oil formation in the Williston Basin and others are starting to be developed, officials said.

There is one rig drilling in Golden Valley County that is under confidential status, said Alison Ritter, public information officer for the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Oil and Gas Division. Because it's under confidential status, it is unknown which formation the rig is drilling in, she said.

However, only a small portion of Golden Valley County, the northeast corner, is in the mature portion of the Bakken, she said. The Three Forks and Red River formations cover much more of the county.

Any drilling going on in the Red River formation would be vertical wells, rather than the horizontal that have been spurring the current oil boom in the Bakken, Ritter said.

Emails between Lynn Helms, Department of Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas Division director, and Debra Walworth, executive director of Prairie West Development and point person for Golden Valley County for the Vision West steering committee, show that Colorado-based Whiting Oil and Gas are drilling with one rig in the Red River formation.

"Their best estimate for now is somewhere between 50 and 150 wells," Helms wrote in the email. "One rig is enough to drill out the 50 wells, if some of the concepts they are testing result in the well count going to 100 they will add a second rig and if it goes to 150 possible a 3rd."

Information Helms had previously shared with the Golden Valley County Vision West steering committee had only shown development in the Bakken and Three Forks formations in the county, Walworth said.

Adding Red River formation projections changes the growth outlook for Beach and Golden Valley County, she said.

"It made a big difference in the oil field jobs that would be out here," Walworth said. "I think 2013 to 2015 will be interesting."

Beach, like many western North Dakota cities, is already struggling with housing, Walworth said. But its need is not as great as cities like Dickinson or Watford City.

"Because we're a small community, we need an assortment of types of housing, but not large numbers," she said. "Just about anything you could think of in a type of housing Beach would be happy to have to add to our housing stock. But again we don't need 100 units of something, we don't need 24-unit apartment blocks."

Calls to Whiting went unreturned Tuesday and Wednesday.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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