MonDak: It SHOULD be a Household Name!


Yesterday I was shocked when a sample copy of new magazine appeared in my mailbox. Nothing was shocking about the magazine showing up, I subscribed to it. But when I started thumbing through it, I came across an article titled: "Our Saudi Sized Reserve: What happens when an oil field as big as any in the Middle East is discovered in the desolate border towns of Montana and North Dakota?" my jaw just dropped.

"Could this be true,?"I thought, as I quickly read the article. I didn't believe it. My magazine was a new publication. I needed corroboration. I googled MonDak. I got one article, published January 17th online from the Missoula News to corroborate MonDak. The Missoula News? Are you kidding me? For a story like this? More oil in Montana and North Dakota than in Saudi Arabia?

I went to technorati and searched the blogosphere. Almost nothing. Only ONE BLOG is writing about this immense oil field, not in our backyards, but ON OUR OWN SOIL!

How is this possible? How can this be? What is wrong with this picture?

I don't have the answers yet, but this is what I know:

Formed during the Jurassic Period, there is anywhere between 100 and 500 billion barrels of oil in the border country between Williston, North Dakota and Sidney, Montana, near where the Yellowstone River flows into the Missouri.


  • The oil lies in a formation known as the "Bakken Formation."

  • The Bakken Formation is the biggest inland oil find in the United States in 50 years.

  • It MIGHT contain 200 billion barrels of oil.

  • Last year, Montana pumped about 3 million barrels a month out of its side of the Bakken--about 45 times more than the field produced in 2002.

So if all this oil is there, or could be there, how come we haven't heard of it and how come nobody is going after it?

Well, we are. Kind of. Apparently there's some difficulty. First off, the oil is two miles down. Secondly, the extent of the formation has not been substantiated yet--at least that's what the reports say. I say hogwash!

Sidney, MT is now an oil boom town and Williston, ND is close behind. Sidney has negative unemployment. All those who used to work in downtown stores and restaurants are leaving to work in a $50+/hour oil job. Owners of the land where the drilling has taken place have already received $1.1 million royalty checks. You don't pay out that kind of money is nothing there. Haliburton and Conaco are on site, along with some local drilling outfits. Montana and North Dakota are the only states that have increased oil production in the last five years.

Oil Well in Sidney, Montana

So my questions are: If the oil companies are there, if the towns are booming and there aren't enough laborers for the jobs, if an oil supply as large as Saudi Arabia's is suspected,



Something just doesn't quite add up. I can speculate until the cows come home, but that would hurt my credibility, so I'll just post what I know and ask questions. And I encourage you to do the same. Google "MonDak". Google "Bakken Formation". And publish what you find.

Thanks for reading.

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MontanaDave said...

A better Google search would be for "Williston Basin". I can't vouch for the accuracy of the statement that there's more oil in this region than in Saudi Arabia, but there is oil and it is being pumped out of the ground. There are easier places to get oil. The winters here can see -50F while summer temps can rise to +110. We're not as isolated as Alaska's North Slope, but it can be a 90 mile drive to the nearest McDonald's for some residents of the area (Williston & Sidney each have them, but the outlying towns don't). As a result, there are some people who don't want to come visit, let alone work in this area.

April 11, 2008 9:39 PM
Roxiticus Desperate Housewives said...

Good morning, Matt, and good luck in our Battle of the Blogs....
Roxiticus Desperate Housewives

April 12, 2008 10:17 AM
Anonymous said...

Here is some more info on it.

As you can see from that report, there really isn't any solid information on the amount of oil contained there. About the only thing that everyone is in agreement on is that there is oil. But estimates on the amount contained range from about 30 billion barrels up to 500 billion. And estimates on how much is recoverable range from 3% to 50%. And this is after 30 years of research, which is probably why it hasn't garnered media attention.

April 12, 2008 12:33 PM
CastoCreations said...

I think there are quite a few places within the US and US waters that would give us a LOT of oil. There are just too many enviro-wackos out there blocking drilling and research at every term. Of course that's just my opinion. But I sure wish they would start drilling and building more refineries here in the U.S. The gov't doesn't need to control prices, they need to control the whacked out regulations that add so much to the price at the pump.

April 13, 2008 8:50 PM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

MontanaDave: Thanks for the comment and the insight! There was just an article on it in Business Week's new magazine venture: "Good" in the May/June issue. There wasn't any info regarding the inability to get at the oil other than the frac process. I searched all over the net for it before making this post, and all I could find to support it was an article in the Missoula News from January. Seemed very odd to me.

Anonymous: Thanks for the link!

Castocreations: Thanks for the this case I don't think it's the environmentalists blocking recovery of the oil. We're talking the East Montana/West North Dakota border region. There's nothing out there and agriculture is difficult at best. As Montanadave commented, there are easier places to get oil, summers get up t0 110, and winters to -50 and they're really isolated--90 mile drives to the nearest McDonald's.

Thanks for commenting everyone!

April 15, 2008 8:59 AM

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