Continental Resources was one of the first developers in the area and now has a stake in about 20 percent of the wells drilled so far. The company has led the effort to develop the deeper rock layers in the area.
Continental CEO Harold Hamm said he still thinks the government estimates are too low, but that he is pleased with the revision.
“The USGS generally is very conservative in their estimates,” Hamm said. “This is a big step. We're encouraged by it.”
Continental Resources in 2010 estimated the field contains 24 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil out of 577 billion barrels of total oil in place.
Last year, the company bumped up its total oil estimate by 56 percent to 903 billion barrels, but it has not yet revised its recoverable estimates.
Continental Resources and other producers in the area are now producing oil from four different rock layers and continue to improve drilling techniques in the area.
“We've always said these resource plays will only get bigger with additional drilling,” said Rick Bott, Continental's president and chief operating officer. “The USGS assessment is proving that out. The play is getting much bigger.”
Production estimates tend to grow both because of additional information provided by each well and because of improved technology.
“This assessment is just based on current technology employed today,” Hamm said. “We feel like in the future the recovery will go up as technology improves and as we try different recovery techniques.”