Oil boom is here to stay

North Dakota’s oil boom doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s new assessment essentially doubles the amount of recoverable oil in the Bakken and Three Forks formations. A survey in 2008 estimated there were 3.6 billion barrels of recoverable oil, but the latest survey boosts that number to 7.4 billion barrels, with much of the increase coming from the Three Forks formation, which wasn’t fully assessed in 2008.

But already some officials believe the new 7.4 billion barrel estimate is low. Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources, believes the survey’s high end estimate of 11 billion recoverable barrels is more realistic, given the constant improvements in technology.

What do all the staggering numbers mean? Consider this: There are 8,500 producing wells in North Dakota right now. Officials estimate as many as another 40,000 wells could be drilled in the next 20 years, meaning the oil boom likely isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.

That means cities in or near the boom will continue to strive to meet the needs of the industry and the needs of the increasing population in the area. That means real solutions to crumbling roads and congested highways must be found sooner rather than later. It means more rapid changes to school systems and continued housing shortages. And it means that cities like Williston, Stanley, Tioga and Minot must work quickly to adapt to the ever-changing way of life in western North Dakota.