Opinion

My Bakken Oil Field Diaries: Will Bakken Ever Rock Again ?


I still vividly remember that freezing Saturday night of Feb 7th, 2015 with 22 degrees of frost at Williston, North Dakota; waiting in a warm lounge for Jefferson Line Bus having departure from Williston, ND to Minneapolis, MN at 3 am. As clock struck 8 pm, a blonde lady in her middle age requested me to leave the place; asked me to show up in front of that building just before 3 am to take my ride. While she was busy making things ready to close the building; thought of leaving such a warm and safe place was already frightening me. “Walking alone on the cold crime surged streets of Williston could land you into some nightmare” Ryan had said to me. You must be wondering by now that what the hell I was doing at a godforsaken place like Williston, North Dakota.

Being an undergrad petroleum engineering student, US Shale Boom has always fascinated me. I knew that US Shale Boom is one of the most important thing happening to Modern Day Petroleum Industry which has even seriously changed the working dynamics of OPEC dominated Oil Industry. 

However, the boom in Bakken Shale caught my eyes in March, 2014. When North Dakota surpassed 1 million barrels of crude oil production per day. Daily production of one million barrels per day is significant because it is a level only four other states – Alaska, California, Louisiana and Texas – have ever reached and until April, only Texas has maintained that level or above in the United States. In addition: Only one Canadian province – Alberta – and 22 countries have ever produced 1 million barrels per day. Alberta and just 19 countries continue to meet or exceed that level of production till date. Since then, I had a dream to visit Bakken Oil fields, but I didn't know that my dream would come true even during my undergraduate studies. When I got this golden opportunity Global UGRAD-Pakistan (USA), a semester exchange program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I visited Bakken oil fields in North Dakota as part of my short research work about "Petroleum Generation Modelling of Williston Basin, North Dakota" & presented my researche in two undergraduate research symposiums held at Minnesota State University, Mankato and Winona State University, respectively.

After losing 1 MMbbls club tag in August by suffering little decline of 50000 bbls/day. North Dakota's oil production in October unexpectedly topped a million barrels per day as a result of favorable oil prices, it looks operators have responded to oil price regime of above $40 for the first time since June of 2015. So, it's the first time in almost 18 months that we saw sustained plus-$40 a barrel for North Dakota sweet crude. Operators responded to that by opening up wells they had on restricted production.” County wise Breakdown of 7.5 percent increase in production: McKenzie County (up 50,000 bpd), Divide County (up 12,0000 bpd) and McLean County (up 12,000 bpd). After OPEC deal and the with the kind of people Trump bringing up in his cabinet (Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruit, Rick Perry). I am positive that Bakken is going to rock & roll very soon.

Although, I felt extremely cold that night and got exhausted due to extensive traveling through Jefferson Line Bus (Minneapolis - Williston). But the joy of making my dream come true vanished everything.



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