Oil boom for Three Affiliated Tribes

A record crowd showed up in Bismarck North Dakot’s Civic Center for the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference and Expo.

The big difference is the good price for oil, and the steadily growing potential of the Williston Basin, which is as active as any oil patch in the nation right now.

The Williston Basin daily oil production is at a record 250,000 barrels, with 112 drilling rigs putting new holes in the ground. Recent studies showing an added 2 billion barrels of recoverable oil in North Dakota’s share of the Three Forks formation directly under the Bakken formation means this “play” should last for 20 years or longer.

The rapidly growing oil drilling across western North Dakota is tapping water supplies like never before, Vein said. “They say every oil well takes 1 million to 3 million gallons of water to drill.”

For the first time in the 60-year history of the state’s oil industry, the Three Affiliated Tribes at Fort Berthold Reservation are in on it in a big way. Until the late 1980s, the tribe didn’t own the minerals under the reservation. Now they do, through a federal action.

There have been 115 right of way actions approved on the reservation for oil companies. So far, there are 50 producing wells on the reservation and 15 drilling rigs operating digging new wells, with more coming.

The first well owned entirely by the tribe just came in recently and is producing 500 or more barrels a day. Other wells already producing are on privately owned mineral acres, by tribal members or others, Short Bull said.

But the tribe stands to reap a bounty because one-third of the mineral acres leased by oil companies who intend to find oil are owned by the tribe, she said.

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