Why It All Starts With The Rock

Bakken operators are well-deserving of the attention they receive from service providers, investors and media. If one wants to learn about the current state of the play, the best place to start is by focusing on the current efforts of the play’s operators. But, after a handful of visits, phone calls and sit-downs I’ve recently held with a particular type of professional, it’s clear to me that if one wants to get a glimpse into the future of the Williston Basin, geologists are the go-to source.

Two weeks ago I spent the morning with Julie LeFever, the geologist considered to be one of a handful of individuals responsible for discovering and asserting the Bakken’s potential. Her history has been told before, but I wasn’t there just to learn about her amazing past. Through the course of a few hours, I toured the Wilson M. Laird Core and Sample Library, a facility responsible for housing core samples from every well drilled in North Dakota. I certainly asked LeFever about her past, about the moments she remembers best as the Bakken went from a possibility to an oil-producing mecca. I also asked about her new areas of interest, the work that excites her now and where the future of oil production in North Dakota is headed. She spoke about all of it as we walked through the massive core library collection, looking at core boxes from several decades ago. Before I left, I chatted with some geologists in-town from Denver. Look for the story of LeFever and what she believes will happen in the future in the magazine’s upcoming issue.

Along with my encounter with LeFever, I have to admit that reading through Stephan Nordeng’s report on research he is currently undertaking to better understand the kinetics, temperatures and pressures related to petroleum production in the Williston Basin left me thinking his work was, for lack of a more specific description, cool.

His work could help other geologist find other formations in the Williston Basin that have adequate oil presence. Check out the story in this week’s newsletter to learn more. The piece links to his full report.

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