This holiday season, the oil and gas industry in North Dakota has a lot for which to be thankful. 

We often fail to recognize how grateful we should be for the Bakken and how much is to come. The total reserves of this formation, among the best in the world, are estimated by some to be as large as 600 billion barrels, of which we will recover 48 billion barrels or so with current technology. That figure will grow well counts from 11,000 today to as many as 60,000 and is far beyond the roughly 3 billion barrels produced in all of history.

Such strong reserve figures offer continued opportunities for our state's people, especially young adults and families. Supporting more than 70,000 jobs, the industry has led the trend of bringing young people into our state, where the median age has dropped to 34. 

Even our government remains strong because of oil and gas revenues. Granted, our Legislature was forced to make deep cuts, but much of the spending highs were to one-time investments that made our state stronger such as the $1.1 billion transportation bill, new medical school, and several water and flooding infrastructure projects.

Finally, we can be grateful that despite all these benefits, we are only on the cusp of our potential. New technologies in completion techniques are increasing quickly, and per the EIA, have boosted Bakken outputs by 40 percent in the last year alone. Our land practices and new pipelines have lowered the footprint of the industry, while their own advancements make them safer with more output. Further advancements in refrac technology and tertiary recovery with CO2 and ethane methods offer even greater promises to boost the performance of each Bakken and Three Forks well. These advancements, some driven by low commodity prices, have set the Bakken up for a safer, more prosperous future.

Shane Bryans, Westhope

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