Oil experts say the Bakken could be the largest oil discovery the world has seen in 30 to 40 years.
Estimates of how much oil lies beneath vary.. But many industry leaders believe tens of billions of barrels of oil are recoverable with today's technology.
A drilling rig hits oil 99.6% of the time. A dry hole -- is extremely rare.
That statistic is like a welcome sign with flashing lights.
Killdeer, Watford City, Williston, Stanley, Newtown -- that's the heart of the Bakken -- where most of the 200 rigs are drilling.
But if those new companies want in on the Bakken -- they have to move further out...
Helms: "They can lease and drill along the margins where the risk is a little higher along the bakken and three forks and that's happening. They can lease some of the new plays like the Tyler and get that started and that's happening."
That will mean oil activity in new areas...
Helms: "A well is being drilled soon as far south as New England. On the eastern edge. There's a big play getting ready to take place in western McLean county. There's some interest in pushing the edge of the margin. A couple wells likely to be drilled in western Mercer County to understand the geology over there."
But North Dakota is bigger than the Bakken...
Helms says the spearfish formation in Bottineau County shows promise. He expects 200 wells there.
And exploration will begin this winter in the Tyler formation which runs south of Dickinson to South Dakota.
Helms says "At the same stage there as we were with the Bakken in 2003, 2004. Just really starting to work on the technology and what may work there. There's as big of a future as you can imagine."
Potential -- that will keep oil companies interested and involved in North Dakota for decades...
Helms: "When I tell people that we are going to drill another 33,000 wells they get alarmed - when talk about other states PA has 100,000 wells, OK has 100,000, CA has 100,000. It has a calming affect. We can do this and we can do it in a way that preserves a lot of the heritage in western North Dakota."
Helms says many new companies are showing interest in North Dakota because right now oil is a better money maker than natural gas.
Companies who have concentrated on drilling for natural gas are looking to get into the oil business.
But there is a risk to drilling outside the proven areas in North Dakota.
The average well costs about $10 million to drill.
Helms: "There's the recent results up there in Renville County @ the renegade well - which is well outside where people thought the eastern edge of this was. With some very positive results."
Helms: A lot of new companies are showing interest in ND.
Lynn Helms, Dir. Mineral Resources: "The industry is delighted to be here. Results are fantastic."