The 'Marathon' begins -- Houston firm hopes to drill 300 oil wells
If the Bakken Shale formation isn't a commonly used phrase in Dickinson yet, Marathon Oil is trying to make it that way. Representatives of Marathon Oil stopped in Dickinson Thursday afternoon at their new business location to celebrate two occas...
If the Bakken Shale formation isn't a commonly used phrase in Dickinson yet, Marathon Oil is trying to make it that way.
Representatives of Marathon Oil stopped in Dickinson Thursday afternoon at their new business location to celebrate two occasions.
The first is the office opening and ribbon cutting.
"That's the first milestone," said John Sullivan, managing director for Marathon Petroleum Company.
The second is since Marathon began drilling in June, it already has struck oil. As a comparison, Sullivan said from his time in Sweden, there was a rig put up in 2002 and oil still hasn't been produced.
"For first oil, we're off to a good start with two wells," Sullivan said of their regional drilling. "As others have said, 'Two wells down, 298 to go.'"
The Bakken Shale formation could hold between 200 and 400 billion barrels of oil, although a United States Geological Survey has not completed a review of the area. Marathon Oil owns 200,000 net acres across the Bakken Shale expanse, mostly in North Dakota and eastern Montana.
"The Bakken Shale is the primary reason Dickinson is our target," said regional manager Steve Guidry.
Marathon Oil estimates approximately 300 wells to be drilled during the next four to five years.
The Dickinson office will staff 20 to 30 employees by the end of the year. Sullivan said several more could be working within 12 months.
Sullivan said Dickinson was chosen over Minot and Williston primarily for its proximity to the acreage Marathon Oil already owns. He also said it was chosen for housing availability and infrastructure investments, although he would support future development in the community.
Guidry said as more oil wells are drilled, the potential workforce increase throughout the state could near 1,000 people, although not all would be direct employees of Marathon Oil.
Sullivan said the total amount of employees is unknown.
"It depends on the success of our wells," Sullivan said.
To attract that kind of workforce, Guidry said the company would rely on and support training programs at Williston State College.
"As we look at the Bakken Shale formation and develop it, we need expertise, resources and technology, because there's exponential potential," said Gov. John Hoeven, who attended Thursday's festivities in Dickinson.
Guidry said North Dakota is primarily a site to gather oil; the refining would continue to occur in the Midwest. He said refineries already exist in nearby places, such as Denver and Minneapolis.
"We definitely encourage additional pipeline infrastructure out of state to get to market," Guidry said.
Both Sullivan and Guidry said Dickinson has been a welcoming community. Hoeven thanked not only Marathon Oil, but those who have made it possible.
"Thank you to Marathon Oil and thanks to the others in the room who did so much to make this happen," Hoeven said.