North Dakota’s 7.5 Billion Barrels of Oil Means We Have All We Need, Right?

bakkenWhat if reducing our dependence on foreign oil wasn’t just about renewable and alternative energy sources—wind, solar, battery-powered electric vehicles—but also meant harvesting our own fossil fuel sources here at home?

N.D. oil is more plentiful than previously thought in this morning’s Minneapolis StarTribune also pointed out that, “The government has sharply increased its estimate, and some think it is still too conservative.” Though the U.S. Geological Survey estimates 7.5 billion barrels, “Continental Resources, the largest acreage-holder in the North Dakota oil patch, estimated in December that the basin contains 20 billion barrels of oil and 4 billion barrels of liquid natural gas.” 

Wow. That’s a lot of energy. There is no question that there is a huge oil boom in that region of the country and my family is benefiting from it, even though my own personal focus is on being ‘green’ and finding ways to optimize my own energy use.

My grandfather, Martin Wolla

Martin Wolla

As a young man my maternal grandfather and his pals acquired mineral rights to areas around Tioga, ND, right in the heart of the Bakken Formation. These rights were split between my mom and her brother and, after mom passed in 1994, they went to my dad and ultimately will be split between my three sisters and me. While the royalties are laughingly diluted by the time they’ve made their way to us (now worth a couple of decent meals at a restaurant each month) the amounts are rising little-by-little and it will be interesting to see if they become even remotely meaningful to our incomes at some point.

My biggest concern, however, is that the government, automakers, oil producers and others will take their eye off the ball when it comes to developing alternative energy sources. Why? That StarTribune article said it best when discussing the new 7.5 billion barrel estimates and whether or not companies could safely ‘invest’ in the region: “The new estimates should give potential investors confidence that the oil boom could have decades to run. At the current rate of production — 22.5 million barrels in January — it would take 27 years to remove 7.5 billion barrels from the ground.

27 years. Seems like a long time, right? The point is that even this new, substantial source of energy will run out

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