The red arrow points to the visible glow of nighttime drilling on North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation. What is surprising is how this bright nighttime activity stands out from the normally dark prairie and rivals the lighting of more eastern cities.
April 2014 witnessed a key milestone in North Dakota’s oil production when it surpassed one million barrels a day. North Dakota has tripled its oil production in the last three years, with an average daily increase of 3,000 barrels. Texas and North Dakota together account for 48% of domestic oil production. However, Texas has long occupied the national consciousness as being the domestic king of oil production. Think of Dallas and JR Ewing with his big hat, office, and giant oilman swagger.
JR Ewing epitomized the look of big Texas oil and money.
While it is unknown if North Dakota will host a TV soap opera, it certainly has the “king of oil” production rights to do so. Oil was first struck in western North Dakota in 1951 near the town of Tioga, but the oil proved difficult to reach, and for decades very little drilling was done in the state. Now, advances in directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing have unlocked the enormous oil reserves of the Bakken shale formation. The US Geological Survey has classified the Bakken as the largest contiguous oil accumulation it has ever evaluated. The Bakken formation encompasses approximately 25,000 square miles in Montana, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, but roughly two-thirds of it lies in western North Dakota.