The Bakken Shale formation, located in Montana and North Dakota, is estimated to hold 4.3 billion barrels of oil—the largest oil find in U.S. history. These estimates may grow as more companies begin to explore the region. The formation ranges in depth from 4,500 to 7,500 feet with an average thickness of 22 feet.
Energy companies have been producing oil for over 60 years in North Dakota; however, advancements in technology paired with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have allowed energy companies to produce oil with a much smaller footprint and less impact on the environment. In the past three years, oil production in the Bakken Shale formation increased to 80 million barrels in 2009, making North Dakota the second largest oil producing state behind Texas.
Supporting North Dakota Communities
The increased production in the Bakken Shale formation has brought significant economic activity to the region. North Dakota, unlike many other states, now has a budget surplus, and received more than $749.5 million in state revenues from oil production in 2010 alone. North Dakota also has the lowest unemployment rate in the country.