Tyler Formation, New Oil Discovery In North And South Dakota

For many years there have been successful oil wells drilled into the Tyler formation, which is located in the Willistion basin.  The Williston basin is a geologic feature that covers much of the states of  North and South Dakota, Montana and also crosses over into Saskatchewan, Canada.

What Is The Tyler Formation?

The Tyler formation, also called  Minnelusa formation, is an organic rich, Pennsylvanian era formation. It is in the range of 318 to 316 million years old. The Tyler is not a true shale, but rather contains  layers of sandstone, limestone, siltstone, coal, anhydrite, and shale. Depth wise, it is located about 2,200′ above the Bakken formation. Unlike the Bakken / Three Forks formation, the Tyler does not reach across into Canada, but exists almost everywhere else in the Williston Basin where the Bakken shale is found.  Geologists believe that the Tyler formation may hold as much as 1/3 of the amount of oil that is in the Bakken shale, which has been recognized as  the largest  oil discovery in the United States. This means that there could also be billions of oil in the Tyler formation, the trick is figuring how to get it out.  With any new shale play it usually takes oil and gas companies a while to “crack the code” and find the best drilling and fracking techniques.

Below is a map of the Tyler “shale”, courtesy of the U.S.G.S.. Note that it runs across the border into South Dakota.

map of Tyler shale in North and South Dakota   Below, thickness interval of Tyler Formation in Williston Basin.

thickness map tyler formation north dakota, south dakota

Past Oil Discoveries In Tyler Formation In Barrier Island Type Structures

In the past there have been many successful oil wells drilled into sandstone structures that dot the Tyler formation. This one geological formation alone is responsible for more than 1% of the oil that has so far been produced in North Dakota. Although the Tyler formation is composed of several types of rock, including shale,  most of the wells were in sandstone reservoirs. These pockets of sandstone where oil has been found in previous years where created in the same way that present day barrier islands were, such as  as Galveston Island,  off the coast of Texas. Now oil and gas exploration companies believe that they can drill in the shale and mixed portion of the Tyler formation and recover even more oil. This may create a whole new “Bakken shale”  or “baby Bakken” type oil boom in  North Dakota and also down into South Dakota. South Dakota has been largely left out of the oil bonanza that neighboring North Dakota has been cashing in on in recent years.

South Dakota Tyler Formation Leasing Beginning

South Dakota has already leased over 67,000 acres of public lands in Harding County. Almost all of the leases were to Bedrock Oil and Gas, a Texas company.  So far the South Dakota oil boom has yet to be realized. It will no doubt require a period of “trial and error” as oil companies find out what kind of completion methods work in the Tyler formation and if significant quantities of oil and gas can be recovered to make the wells pay. Meanwhile, leasing of private land for Tyler shale drilling in South Dakota and North Dakota is already underway. (We will bring you more details as price per acre paid for Tyler shale leases begin to come out). (If you have any information about how much leasing or bonus payments are being paid for Tyler shale leases in the area, please use the comments section below to inform our readers.)

South Dakotans Eying Tyler Formation Exploration Across the State Line

Drilling into the Tyler formation is occurring north of the border in North Dakota.  Quote from AP Article “Lynn Helms, who is the director of North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources, said the southwest part of  may have up to 7,000 wells aimed at the Tyler formation within five years, if initial drillings are successful. Stephan H. Nordeng, a geologist with the United States Geological Survey in Bismark, stated: “The Tyler Formation is of interest because it is similar to the Bakken Formation in that it covers a large part of the Williston Basin, contains significant amounts of organic matter and is a proven oil-producing interval,”

Helms and other North Dakota officials are planning to hold public meetings in Hettinger County  to discuss the potential impact to the area from Tyler shale oil exploration.

Sources: https://www.dmr.nd.gov/ndgs/newsletter/Jan%202011/Winter%202010-2011%20Tyler.pdf

Do you have any information on how much oil and gas companies are paying per acre for Tyler shale leases? If so, please share it with our readers below.