BISMARCK, N.D. — The godfather of North Dakota’s present oil bonanza predicted the state’s crude production will double to 2 million barrels daily by decade’s end, but warned industry officials Thursday that future safety missteps would threaten that.
“We can’t have any more issues,” Harold Hamm, the CEO of Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources Inc., told expo-goers at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, N.D. “It has to be done in an absolute safe manner. It’s going to take all of us.”
Hamm’s company is the biggest producer and largest leaseholder in the Bakken shale formation, with more than 1 million acres in North Dakota and Montana. The company, which has been drilling in North Dakota for almost 25 years, was among the first to tap a Bakken well in 2004 using horizontal drilling technology. The company was the first to drill a horizontal well in the underlying Three Forks formation in 2008.
Unlocking the once-perplexing formations has propelled North Dakota from the nation’s ninth-largest oil producer in 2006 to No. 2, behind Texas. But the state’s unprecedented oil boom recently was marred by a massive oil pipeline rupture last fall and a fiery oil train derailment in December.
The disaster in a small town west of Fargo was one of at least eight major accidents during the last year, including an explosion of Bakken crude in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, that killed 47 people. Other trains carrying Bakken crude have since derailed and caught fire in Alabama, New Brunswick and Virginia.