Montana Oil Production History
The first significant oil in Montana was extracted from wells drilled in the Elk Basin field in 1915. The state's first new oil field was discovered in Cat Creek in 1920. This discovery was soon followed by the Kevin Sunburst field in 1922.
Over the next 4 decades, additional crude deposits were identified in the Williston Basin (Northeast Montana), the Sweetgrass Arch (Northern Montana), the Big Snowy Uplift (Central Montana), the northern extensions of Wyoming's Big Horn Basin (South central Montana) and the Powder River Basin (southeastern Montana).
In 1968, Montana's oil production peaked at 48.5 million barrels, with production declining rapidly until 1971, when a series of world oil supply shocks began to push prices upward, stimulating more drilling. Production was stable from 1971 to 1974 as Powder River Basin output increased to match a decline in Williston Basin output. Production has declined since 1974, despite the continued escalation of oil prices.
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How Much Oil is in Montana?
Montana holds less than 1% of total proved crude oil reserves in the United States, and the state accounts for about 1 in every 200 barrels of oil produced in the nation annually. Most of Montana's crude oil production comes from the Bakken Formation in the northeastern part of the state along the border with North Dakota. Since 2006, at least 74 workers have died in the Bakken oil fields. Montana and North Dakota account for 60 of those fatalities.
The Bakken Formation is a rock unit that occupies about 200,000 square miles of the subsurface of the Williston Basin, underlying parts of Montana, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The formation has recently emerged as one of the most important sources of new oil production in the U.S. Most Bakken drilling and production has been in North Dakota, although the formation also extends into Montana and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Are There Oil Refineries in Montana?
Montana currently has 4 oil refineries with a combined processing capacity of approximately 218,000 barrels per day. The 3 largest refineries are in the Billings area, and there is a smaller refinery in Great Falls that makes renewable aviation fuel from animal fat and vegetable oil.
Montana Natural Gas Supplies
Alberta, Canada, provides the largest supply of natural gas for Montana consumers, and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future due to the state's proximity to Alberta’s enormous gas reserves. The next largest supply for Montana is from in-state wells, the majority of which are located in the northern part of the state. Supplies from other Rocky Mountain states represent a small portion of total in-state use and continue to decline from historic levels.
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Montana Oil Worker Fatality Lawsuit
In April 2015, an oil worker death lawsuit was filed against Continental Resources and numerous independent contractors on behalf of Zachary Buckles, who died while gauging oil tanks on a Continental Resources well site. According to the complaint, Buckles encountered toxic hydrocarbon vapors that killed him. Continental Resources suggested the man had a heart attack while simultaneously opening the tank to gauge the oil.
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Montana Occupational Injuries 2021
There were a total of 40 work-related fatalities in Montana in 2021. Private industry employees accounted for 36 of the deaths, with the remaining 4 fatalities in government. More than 50% of the employees killed were wage and salary workers, accounting for 28 of the 40 injuries. 12 self-employed workers made up the remaining cases.
Transportation incidents were the leading cause of fatal occupational injuries to Montana workers in 2021, with 23, or 58% of fatalities. Falls, slips, and trips recorded 6 fatalities while violence and other injuries by persons or animals accounted for 5.
Get a Free Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Montana Oil Field Accident and Injury Lawyers
The personal injury lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP have experience dealing with the rights of American oilfield workers, and we are one of the only firms willing to handle oilfield workplace accidents in Montana and throughout the entire United States.
Again, if you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an oilfield accident in Montana, you should contact our oil field accident lawyers immediately by using the form below or calling our law firm toll-free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600 to schedule a free case review and legal options.
Clients may be able to recover fair compensation for medical expenses from an oil company in a lawsuit and a personal injury lawyer can help.