Oil interest creeps further south in North Dakota... and with it an opportunity to explore a new area.
Drilling crews will soon be moving into Hettinger County east of New England.
Chesapeake Energy has filed the first permits -- two of them -- to drill in Hettinger County.
Director of North Dakota Mineral Resources, Lynn Helms, says he expects drilling to start this winter. "This is as far south as anybody's gone in Bakken and three forks. It's a major, significant event."
Chesapeake is one of the nation's top oil and gas companies.
It is one of the late comers to oil exploration in North Dakota.
Helms says, "It's a higher risk because it's outside the edge of the Bakken Shale but when you put in the risks of the two formations together you get something that's attractive to oil companies that are wanting to work resource plays."
And it takes a risk taker to drill in Hettinger County -- given its history...
The first well was drilled in 1954, it was dry. The last well, in 2007, was also a dry hole. In it's history, 28 wells were drilled in Hettinger County, only ONE produced oil... "Hettinger County has had very little drilling activity and very little production and none since 2002 -- so it's been 10 years since any production," says Helms.
But since then oil companies have entered a new era of drilling. One that until now has never been tested in Hettinger County.
Helms says, "never had a horizontal well been drilled in Hettinger county until now."
That's why Helms says he's optimistic history will not repeat itself.
"We're pretty excited about it. We've been saying for about a year that the Tyler is a resource play that people should be paying attention to. We think that formation and drilling play is at the same stage as the Bakken and three forks were at in 2004."
Helms says the oil industry will learn a tremendous amount about the Tyler and Three Forks formations from the two future wells.
And it's a chance for a county with a long string of dry holes... to rewrite history.