Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Bakken Formation

Some of my elders and betters here locally are retired middle managers from the old school oil patch. That means 30+ year long careers with major, formerly U.S. owned oil companies. I've had the pleasure of extended conversation with these folks in the course of road trips. One of the things they've always argued with me about is of course, peak oil. According to my associates, the U.S. sits atop a veritable ocean of untapped oil and has for decades pursued a national security policy of ruthlessly and intentionally exploiting all possible foreign sources of oil before turning its attention to the resources buried here in the "homeland".

Thanks at least in part to these old heads, coupled with obscure information held over from the halcyon days of the Carter administration, during which a major initiative to jump start shale oil extraction came to a mysterious close, I've been aware of Bakken for some time. I mentioned it in passing a couple of weeks ago for the record, but didn't pursue it any further. This morning, I see it's gone mainstream.
Deep under the northern Badlands, trapped tightly in dense layers of shale, there is oil.

Perhaps hundreds of billions of barrels of it.

A long-anticipated federal report to be released today will examine just how much might be squeezed out of a vast blanket of rock called the Bakken Formation.

Geologists have known about “the Bakken” for more than half a century. So the question isn’t whether high-quality crude really exists in a region not commonly associated with drilling rigs: North Dakota, eastern Montana and the southern parts of two Canadian provinces.

The question is, how tough is it to get at this oil?
Objectively speaking, that's not really the question at all. The state of the art of contemporary mining and tunnelling technologies would be the stuff of science fiction for decades if you actually knew what is possible. The question, as I see it, is whether or not TPTB elect to permit the current situation to continue to devolve on its unsustainable trajectory, or, whether they plan a major and fundamental reengineering of society down to Orthogenic levels. Of course, you know that such reengineering can only occur in the wake of tremendous social upheaval and trauma. Collective conscious shocks are the necessary and inevitable precursor to massive, collective lifestyle changes. Remember what old Ronald "Wilson" Reagan said about it?