Oil industry leaders say applying new hydraulic fracturing techniques to older wells in North Dakota's Bakken oil patch has the potential to recover more oil without increasing the footprint on the land.

Oil industry leaders say applying new hydraulic fracturing techniques to older wells in North Dakota's Bakken oil patch has the potential to recover more oil without increasing the footprint on the land.

Operators are targeting wells drilled between 2008 and 2010, the early years of Bakken development before technology advanced, The Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/2rS9WAV ) reported. The energy industry uses hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals.

Justin Kringstad is the director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, which recently analyzed the wells. He said most of the 140 wells in the Bakken that have used new fracking technology saw an increase in oil production from 200,000 to 250,000 barrels.

"On average, they're getting better performance from the wells," Kringstad said, noting that industry leaders believe the wells are only recovering about 5 to 15 percent of the oil available.
North Dakota legislators also are interested in the potential for using fracking technology on existing oil wells and have planned a study focused on its fiscal impact to the state.

Sen. Kelly Armstrong, R-Dickinson, said recovering more oil would mean more jobs and tax revenue.

Armstrong, one of the legislators who introduced legislation allowing for the study, said lawmakers plan to invite experts to learn more about fracking and discuss if there are economic incentives the state could consider.

"We are only getting a small, small amount of the total potential reserve down there," Armstrong said. "Everybody would benefit if we could figure out a way to recover more."