Few wells are being drilled on federal surface in the Dakota Praire Grasslands in North Dakota compared to the Fort Berthold Reservation as well as the extensive drilling on private lands in the state.
Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources in Bismarck, reported in his October Director's Cut, his most recent report of the N.D. oil and gas industry, that seven rigs are actively drilling on federal surface in the Dakota Prairie Grasslands.
In January, Helms reported five wells were drilling on federal surface in the national grasslands.
This rig, shown in this photo taken in August by Glenda Baker Embry, is located just west of the Four Bears Bridge near New Town and off N.D. Highway 23 in the Four Bears Segment of the Fort Berthold Reservation. Lake Sakakawea is in the background. There’s more oil and gas development on the reservation than on the Dakota Prairie Grasslands in North Dakota.
He reported in October 2011 that three wells were being drilled on federal surface there.
Two years ago, Helms said in his October 2010 report that four wells were drilling on federal surface in the national grasslands.
Here's the number of wells being drilled this year in the Dakota Prairie National Grasslands, according to Helms' monthly reports through October:
Plan opens federal land for oil shale, tar sands
North Dakota is not involved in a proposed plan by the Bureau of Land Management to advance research, demonstration and development of oil shale and tar sands.
Blake Androff, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington, D.C., said the Nov. 9 announcement makes nearly 1 million acres available in three states for the proposed plan. It adds 200,000 more acres to the plan than previously announced in February.
The three states are Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
"BLM's proposed plan is the product of engagement with the public, as well as with numerous state and local agencies," said Androff.
He said the proposed plan "supports the administration's all-of-the-above approach to explore the full potential our nation's domestic energy resources and to develop innovative technology and techniques that will lead to safe and responsible production of resources, including oil shale and tar sands, which industry recognizes are years from being commercially viable, but require RD&D today."
The final programmatic environmental impact statement and plan amendments would make nearly 700,000 acres in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming available for research and development of oil shale, and about 130,000 acres in Utah for activities related to tar sands, BLM officials said.
Colorado BLM also signed two leases for research, demonstration and development oil shale proposals to encourage industry to develop and test technologies aimed at developing oil shale resources on a
commercial scale. The leases were awarded to ExxonMobil Exploration Co. and Natural Soda Holdings Inc. and go into effect Dec. 1.
According to the BLM:
Oil shale is a fine-grained sedimentary rock containing kerogen; it should not be confused with "shale oil." When extracted from the surrounding rock, kerogen can be processed using extremely high heat and pressure to yield petroleum-like liquid.
Tar sands are sedimentary rocks containing a heavy hydrocarbon compound called bitumen, which can be refined into oil. Unlike the oil sands deposits in Canada, oil is not currently produced from tar sands on a significant commercial level in the United States. U.S. tar sands are hydrocarbon wet, whereas the Canadian oil sands are water wet, meaning that U.S. tar sands would require different processing techniques.
The Dakota Prairie National Grasslands are administered by the U.S. Forest Service.
On the Fort Berthold Reservation, Helms said in his October report the number of rigs that are drilling has dropped to 27 with none on fee lands (land not held in trust by the federal government) and 27 on trust lands (land held in trust by the federal government). He said there are 706 wells 101 on trust lands and 605 on fee lands and production of 119,644 barrels of oil per day (7,309 from trust lands and 112,925 from fee lands).
He reported 139 wells on Fort Berthold are waiting completion, 259 drilling permits have been approved 244 on trust lands and 15 on fee lands and there are 1,566 additional potential future wells 1,426 on trust lands and 140 on fee lands.
As of Thursday, a total of 187 rigs were actively drilling in North Dakota, the N.D. Oil and Gas Division website reported. A division of the N.D. Department of Mineral Resources, the Oil and Gas Division, regulates the drilling and production of oil and gas in the state.