Billionaire oilman Harold Hamm said the Bakken Shale region of Montana and North Dakota may hold about 20 billion barrels of recoverable crude and the natural gas equivalent of 4 billion barrels of oil, highlighting the fact that government estimates about the bounty of Bakken's reserves may be too conservative.
The U.S. Geological Survey released a study in 2008 that estimated that up to 4.3 billion barrels of oil can be recovered in the Bakken, according to Bloomberg News. The agency has subsequently said it has not seen enough data to revise that estimate. A North Dakota study originally agreed with the USGS estimate, but a later study by the state has boosted its Bakken estimate to 11 billion barrels.
Oklahoma-based Continental Resources (CLR), the company that Hamm is chairman and chief executive officer, performed its own Bakken studies. Continental Resources has been drilling in North Dakota for 22 years. The company is the largest leaseholder in the Bakken shale formation, with more than 864,000 acres in North Dakota and Montana, according to Bloomberg.
While the USGS called Hamm's estimate ''high,'' Hamm maintains the estimate is believable and that it means North Dakota could produce 1 million barrels of oil per day by 2020, making it one of the largest oil producers in the world.