North Dakota, currently the fourth-largest oil producer among U.S. states, could see its production double in the next decade after government and industry experts said the state may contain double the amount of oil and gas than previously believed. If the state does in fact double its production, it would become the second-largest oil producer in the U.S., trailing only Texas.
Alaska and California are the currently the second- and third-largest U.S. oil producers, respectively, but North Dakota's production is surging. The state is expected to have produced 110 million barrels in 2010, up from less than 80 million barrels just in 2009 and double the amount produced three years ago.
North Dakota's oil patch now accounts for about 6% of total U.S. crude oil production, up from 1% less than three years ago, according to the Associated Press. Officials believe North Dakota could produce 700,000 barrels per day within the next four to seven years, up 2010's level of 350,000 barrels per day.
Federal and state estimates had pegged North Dakota's portion of the Bakken shale and underlying Three Forks-Sanish oil formations in western North Dakota at about 5 billion barrels of oil, using current horizontal drilling technology, the AP reported.