Bakken Formation mining a boon to Watford City
North Dakota has long been an energy producing state, especially oil and natural gas, but the recent shale exploration of the Bakken has been truly unprecedented.
The Bakken Formation is one of several shale deposits covering parts of Montana, North Dakota, and Canadian provinces Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Oil was first discovered near Watford City in the early ‘50s, but large-scale mining was impractical with the extraction techniques of the day. Even oil estimates as recently as 2007 put the amount of technically recoverable oil at only a fraction of the formation’s total reserves.
However, the development and use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or fracking, which creates new paths for oil with high-pressure water blasts) have allowed oil recovery since 2008 to exceed all expectations.
Oil companies have moved into the region, but the potential oil production demands more infrastructure, people, and services than the rural communities are prepared to provide.
Because of its proximity and base of services, Watford City has been a prime destination for the influx of workers, scientists, and entrepreneurs.