Oil company leaders describe Bakken as “mature”

February 16, 2022

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Bakken’s oil boom appears to be in the rear view mirror.

North Dakota Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms say a word he heard many times when he met in Texas with executives from 10 oil companies with wells in the Bakken is “mature” in describing the state’s oil patch.

“The Bakken has been rebranded, whether we wanted it to be or not,” Helms said. “We are looking at very low rates of growth, some companies just holding their production flat.”

U.S. oil producers are more focused on growing their operations in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, he said.

Even soaring oil prices have not been enough to interest companies in significantly boosting their activity in North Dakota. Oil prices have climbed significantly in recent weeks in large part due to tension between Ukraine and Russia, a major energy supplier to Europe, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

“One would have expected activity to really pick up with those kinds of oil prices,” Helms said. “In the rebranding of us as ‘mature,’ that’s not the plan.”

While North Dakota could still see small annual production increases, drilling is expected to taper off in about a decade, Helms said.

Helm said that in order to retain the state’s oil output, new technologies need to be developed to squeeze more oil out of the rock where wells have already been drilled, a process known as enhanced oil recovery So far, that’s feasible only in older vertical wells where carbon dioxide is injected to boost oil production, he said.