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Thursday, March 15, 2012 ■ Page 7 Mercer not ‘mature enough’ for Bakken

By LAUREN DONOVAN Bismarck Tribune

Mercer County depends on how mature it is.

far fringe of the Bakken formations that are thermally mature, properly cooked, in other words and readily produce oil. And “fringe” in this case may mean

no more than 20 miles or so bordering Dunn County, where one Bakken well was plugged and abandoned two years ago. Another one drilled roughly at the same time was fi rst drilled into the Bak- ken with no results and then pulled back up to the Lodgepole formation. Today, that well produces 10 barrels of oil a day and 50 barrels of water in the same time. From that perspective, the analysis for

The Coal Country county is on the BEULAH — Hope for striking oil in

ment, even though the county is not in the Bakken hot spot, he said. Outside the thermally mature area of the Bakken, which includes most of Mercer County and beyond to the Missouri River, is an area called an “expulsion area,” he said. Murphy said the theory is that Bak-

ken oil is pushed out beyond its mature boundary and that outlier area has shown fairly good production in Saskatchewan on the northern reach of the Bakken. It’s possible that geologists’ calcula-

tions are wrong and the expulsion “is re- ally part of the Bakken,” Murphy said. He said the Tyler formation doesn’t

look promising for the county either, like it does for counties in a region south of Dickinson, “unless the oil pushed in from somewhere else.” He said the county’s best oil bet could

Mercer County presented the night of March 12 by State Geologist Ed Murphy was not dazzling. Murphy spoke to about 40 people,

be in formations deeper than the Bak- ken, called the Winnipeg and Red River groups, somewhere around 12,000 feet deep. Murphy said it’s all about the oil win-

many of them rural folks and members of the Mercer County Farm Bureau, which sponsored the presentation. There might be hope for oil develop-

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and I don’t want to dash anybody’s hope. These are maps we’ve had out there since 2008 and companies are well aware,” Mur- phy said. The companies

are focused on the thermally mature area, but the expul- sion area might be a way for some com- panies to get into the oil patch out on the edge with much cheaper leases, said.


dow and when it’s not in the Bakken or formations above it, the best place to look is below it. “We’re using the best science avail- able. I thought about this coming here

state Department of Mineral Resources showed that 225 rigs could drill another 4,500 wells in two years to fi nish the fi rst phase of Bakken development when leases are secured by at least one well. Murphy said it’ll take another 16 years to drill another 27,500 wells to fully develop the spacing units. The fi rst phase will provide up to

Figures from the LAUREN DONOVAN/Tribune

Mercer County Farm Bureau board President Rita Faut visits with State Geologist Ed Murphy at an oil information meeting on March 12.

27,000 jobs in the oil industry and an- other 10,000 jobs in infrastructure, with 60,000 jobs at its peak, phasing into ap- proximately 35,000 permanent jobs. (Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 701-220-5511 or

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