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North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms was asked recently  what has been the impact on North Dakota from the oil and gas industry.

Those numbers show a total of $125 billion invested within North Dakota’s portion of the Bakken, Helms said, which works out to $1.8 million for every man, woman and child in the state.

The breakdown shows $99.9 billion invested in drilled and completed wells and $9 billion in non-completed wells that have been drilled but not yet hydraulically fractured. 

Another $13 billion has gone into natural gas gathering systems. Burlington Northern Sante Fe Rail and Transport has invested another billion or so, and big transmission lines, including the Dakota Access pipeline, make up the rest of the total.

That number doesn’t include the investments in housing and infrastructure that have been made by private firms and local, state and federal government. It is only what oil and gas companies have invested.

Helms also commented on enhanced oil recovery.

“Our estimate basinwide is that about 10 percent recovery is what we can expect if we drill 60,000 wells,” Helms said. “So we will get one of every 10 barrels and leave nine in the ground.”

That is leaving an enormous amount of wealth in the ground, and has prompted many to seek better recovery methods.

Bakken rocks soaked in carbon dioxide have meanwhile yielded 98 percent of their oil content in laboratory tests.

A 1 percent increase in oil recovery from the Bakken represents somewhere around three to four billion barrels of oil.

Several pilots are underway to work on enhanced oil recovery by various companies, such as  Hess, Liberty and XTO.

Helms also projected that oil could reach more normal price ranges of $50 to $60 by year’s end or early next year, if trajectories remain as they are. While production in North Dakota is 6 percent above the state’s budget projection, current oil prices are about 9 percent below what was forecast.

Given a positive forecast for the oil market, Williston’s population is set to hit 60,000 people by 2050, estimated Helms. Williston’s current population is estimated to be about 30,000.