About 2.9 Tcf of natural gas and 1.4 billion bbl of oil will eventually be produced from Canada’s share of the Bakken Shale formation, according to Saskatchewan and Canadian government earth scientists.
Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have only begun to unlock the northern tip of the tight geological vault centered in the northwestern United States, said a resource assessment by the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Economy and the National Energy Board.
In Canada, Bakken zones known to be rich in gas and oil span 62,000 square kilometers (24,800 square miles) of southeastern Saskatchewan. Similar, smaller and less well understood branches of the underground layer also occur in Manitoba and Alberta.
Although government and industry geologists have known about the structure since the 1950s, production awaited the 21st Century combination of advanced drilling and well completion technology with the high oil prices that prevailed until late last year.
Current Saskatchewan Bakken production is about 60,275 b/d. Cumulative total output to date is 160 million bbl.
Neither Saskatchewan nor federal earth scientists venture guesses about future drilling or production rates likely to emerge from the current lows on the oil and gas price and field activity cycles.
The authorities also do not guess whether more technology advances will enable greater production from colossal volumes in place but still beyond reach in the Canadian Bakken -- an astronomical but inaccessible natural endowment estimated at 107 Tcf of gas and 70.9 billion bbl of oil.