North Dakota Shale: Unlocking Domestic Crude

September 21, 2012 09:36 AM

North Dakota has been a dark horse on the crude production landscape until recently, and is now recognized as sitting on top of the largest oil deposit in the lower 48 states. The Bakken field's 15,000 square miles spans two states and two Canadian provinces, and holds an estimated 4.3 billion barrels of oil ready to be tapped for drilling.

Dependence on foreign oil has been a hot-button issue for awhile in the U.S. and the middle east has been taking much of the heat. But the EIA reports that Canada is actually the leading crude oil supplier to the U.S today. Traditionally it has been thought that most of our crude comes from the middle east, but crude import and consumption patterns have been changing in the U.S. since 2005. EIA provides the following table:

Top Sources of Net Crude Oil and Petroleum Product (U.S.) Imports:
Canada (29%)
Saudi Arabia (14%)
Venezuela (11%)
Nigeria (10%)
Mexico (8%)

During 2011, 52% of U.S. crude and petroleum imports came from the Americas and the Caribbean. 22% came from the Persian Gulf. Reliance on foreign oil has been in decline for a number of reasons. Domestically, bio-fuels have played their role, but dramatic gains in U.S. efficiency and production have storage facilities nearly at capacity.

The U.S. consumed 18.8 million barrels (MMbd) of petroleum products per day in 2011. That figure makes the U.S. the world's largest petroleum consumer, while U.S. domestic production came in third worldwide at 5.7 MMbd.

Look for dependence on foreign oil and petroleum products to continue on the downtrend. ExxonMobil has purchased the rights to nearly 200,000 acres in the Northern Bakken shale fields and announced its intent to drill where producers have seen back-to-back gains of 5% year-over-year.

This rich discovery is in addition to the already ample U.S. supply of crude and natural gas. North Dakota crude is expected to provide some degree of downside pressure on oil and natural gas prices for the foreseeable future, and bolster U.S. energy independence.


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