In almost exactly a decade since the first successful horizontal well was drilled deep below the North Dakota plains, the Bakken field has released more than 1 billion barrels of oil.
Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources is by far the largest operator in the Bakken field and is credited with proving the area can be produced economically.
The first well was drilled in the first quarter of 2004, and Continental announced this week the field produced its 1 billionth barrel in the first quarter of this year, according to data collected by IHS.
“This milestone validates the immense potential of the Bakken field and development is just beginning,” said Jack Stark, Continental’s senior vice president of exploration. “Two-thirds of this oil was produced in the last three years. This is something our country can celebrate as the oil and natural gas industry continues to create jobs, grow our economy and secure America’s future.”
In south Texas, the Eagle Ford is growing even faster. Serious oil drilling in the area didn’t begin until 2009, and total oil production in August 2013 passed 1 million barrels per day, a level the Bakken is approaching, but has not yet reached.
The success of these two fields, along with numerous others throughout the country — including Oklahoma’s Woodford, Mississippian, SCOOP and Stack plays — have led to rapid changes to the global oil market.
After falling for 23 years, the country’s oil production jumped 49 percent in five years to reach more than 2.7 billion barrels in 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The agency last week released new data showing that as of December, the United States had been the world’s largest petroleum producer for 14 straight months. Every indication shows that number has only continued to grow since the first of the year.
Domestic producers in December recovered almost 13 million barrels per day of total oil, outpacing Saudi Arabia at 11.7 million and Russia at almost 10.6 million.