The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Rockin' the Bakken

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted June 17, 2009

The Bakken formation is making a noticeable improvement in U.S. oil production. According to API's Monthly Statistical Report for May 2009, U.S. oil production climbed for the fifth straight month largely because of higher output from North Dakota's Bakken shale production.

This formation stretches under North Dakota, eastern Montana and portions of southern Canada. A year ago, the U.S. Geological Survey raised its assessment of Bakken energy potential from a few million barrels of oil to as much as 4.3 billion barrels. In recent months, North Dakota has experienced an old-fashioned oil rush and hundreds of wells have been drilled.

As they say in North Dakota, they are "Rockin' the Bakken" with help from technological advancements, including hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, which make it possible to coax the oil from the hard rock. In 2008, North Dakota had more than 4,200 producing oil wells--an all-time record for the state. North Dakota is now the fifth largest oil-producing state behind Louisiana, Texas, Alaska and California.

While the nation's oil production climbed above 5.3 million barrels a day, API's Monthly Statistical Report showed that oil demand in May fell by more than 4 percent over the same period last year, as the ailing economy continued to take a toll on freight transportation and air travel. Demand for jet fuel was nearly 9 percent lower than a year ago, while demand for diesel fuel and heating oil fell by 7 percent from May 2008.

Although air and freight travel was lower in May, motorists were using their personal vehicles more. Demand for gasoline was .6 percent higher than a year ago, and refiners produced near-record amounts of fuel.

Read more about API's Monthly Statistical Report for May 2009 and listen to a podcast about the Bakken Formation.