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The recent sharp rise in crude production from Bakken shale in the northern U.S. underscores the potential of emerging oil shale plays to increase domestic energy supplies, much in the same way natural gas shales from Texas to New York have boosted output, says a new report by an oil industry backed group.  

Oil production in North Dakota, which accounts for about 75 percent of Bakken output, has more than doubled since 2008 and now hovers around 350,000 barrels per day. The increase has made North Dakota the nation’s fourth-largest oil-producing state, representing about 6 percent of U.S. oil output, the report by the non-profit Energy Policy Research Foundation said.

With investment and drilling rising, Bakken production could surpass 700,000 barrels per day within a few years and top 10 percent of domestic crude output, the report said.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates 4.3 billion barrels of oil can be recovered using today’s technology in the Bakken shale, which extends beyond North Dakota into eastern Montana and neighboring territories of Saskatchewan and Manitoba in Canada. But producers and local officials believe the estimate is low and that recoverable resources could be more than double that amount.

The report says the success in the Bakken holds promise for other emerging shale oil plays in the U.S., including the Niobrara play in Colorado and Wyoming and the Eagle Ford play in south Texas.

But it also notes challenges in oil shale expansion, including rising well development costs and environmental issues such as the large quantities of water required to extract oil from the tight rock formations.

Source: Fuel Fix 

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