Continental Well in Third Bench is Significant Development in Ba - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Continental Well in Third Bench is Significant Development in Bakken

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It's a significant development in the Bakken.

 The width of the play has been defined.

Now the question is, how deep can companies drill and find oil?

Early results could mean billions more recoverable barrels of oil in North Dakota.

"This is one of those signposts in the Bakken Petroleum System, one of those significant wells that everybody will look back to and say that was a major event in terms of figuring out the Bakken Petroleum System," says North Dakota Oil and Gas Director Lynn Helms.

The well Helms is talking about is a Continental Well like the one you see here. It's called the Charlotte 2-22 and it's in McKenzie County just northwest of Watford City.

It's the first well to have success drilling down to what's called the third bench. It's the deepest anyone has drilled and recovered significant oil in the Bakken.

"If this covers a significant aerial extent, then were not just talking about billions of more recoverable barrels in the USGS assessment or in our assessment, we're also talking about extending the development phase of this Bakken/Three Forks development which now sits at about eighteen years of development drilling, it could be extended by decades if there are additional benches that have to be drilled," says Helms.

This graphic shows the Bakken at over 11,000 feet down.

Companies have had success in the upper, middle and lower Bakken. The first two benches of the Three Forks--what you see in yellow--have also been productive.

Continental is the first to have success in the third bench. The oil industry is taking notice.

"There's actually another well or two that are being drilled in the 4th bench that are on confidential status so a lot of exploration going on to find out how thick this system is. And that's what really the buzz is all about," says Helms.

I do think were gonna look back to this as one of those important events that defines the Bakken Petroleum System."

Helms says Continental is planning around twenty wells in the next year in the lower benches to examine the potential for deeper oil.

Helms says he believes it will take another decade to fully explore the vertical boundary of the Bakken.

By the way, the USGS Survey he mentioned will update how much recoverable oil there is in the play. He says he expects the results to come earlier than expected, perhaps by mid-year.

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