When it comes to petro-dollars, North Dakota isn't the first place you might think of - but soon it will be. The aggressive efforts to develop shale oil have turned North Dakota into one of the top states for growth and employment nationwide.
Since oil first started to be processed from shale formations, the development has been rapid. And today, the amount of oil produced from shale via the fracking technique (the breaking of shale formation using a water, sand, and chemical mixture to access the commodity below) has intensified.
In fact, if you add the proposed oil from Canada's oil sands, the U.S. will become much less dependent on oil from the volatile Middle East. Texas oil magnate T. Boone Pickens is probably giddily thinking of the investment opportunities, as he has long been an opponent of oil from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the largely Middle Eastern oil cartel.
A clear indication of the impact of shale oil can be seen in the monthly report from OPEC. According to the report, OPEC predicts a decline in its market share due to the influx of shale oil. (Source: Lawler, A., "OPEC to lose market share to shale oil in 2014," Reuters, July 10, 2013)
The growth of shale oil will likely only quicken as new sites are developed and related technology improves. In fact, after Texas, North Dakota is the next biggest producer of oil nationwide-accounting for roughly 10% of the U.S.'s current daily production. (Source: Austin, S., "North Dakota Oil Boom," Oil-Price.net, August 13, 2012, last accessed July 11, 2013)
And while there are numerous players in the production of shale oil, one of the key ones in North Dakota's Bakken oil fields is Continental Resources, Inc. (NYSE/CLR). The company controls nearly one million net acres in the region.
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In the first quarter, Continental Resources reported net production of about 121,500 barrels oil equivalent (BOE) daily, which included 76,900 BOE from its Bakken shale play in North Dakota and Montana. And the projections are extremely bullish, as the company has targeted a whopping 603,000 BOE for its North Dakota wells, along with 430,000 BOE for its wells in Montana. (Source: "Continental Resources Reports First Quarter 2013 Results," Yahoo! Finance, May 8, 2013, last accessed July 11, 2013)
If these numbers pan out, it would become one of the world's top oil-producing areas, accounting for around 3.3% of OPEC's current total daily production.
Another key player in the Bakken region is Whiting Petroleum Corporation (NYSE/WLL), with close to 600,000 net acres in North Dakota.
So while OPEC will continue to dominate the global oil market, the state of North Dakota is becoming the biggest big-oil sensation in North America since the tar sands in Alberta. That's bad news for OPEC, but good news for investors.