Posted: Feb 26, 2013 10:18 AM by Jay Kohn - MTN News
Updated: Feb 26, 2013 10:33 AM
BILLINGS - Tucked away on the Billings west end, the Montana Board of Oil & Gas Conservation warehouse is one of the most unique in the state.
It is where virtually everything oil and gas under the Big Sky, is chronicled and stored.
The warehouse features rows and rows of core samples and core chips from Montana's drilling past.
The division's library also includes tens of thousands of well logs and reams of files containing the paperwork behind every significant well in Montana.
"We give them six months to keep the information confidential from whatever they find from exploratory wells," explained Tom Richmond, Division Administrator.
"After that six months is up, they have to send us the well samples if we ask for them, or the core chips from the well, and then all the well logs," said Richmond.
Richmond says they don't have enough space to include samples from every well drilled, but enough of a collection to represent a specific area.
"We just take samples from the most significant wells," explained Richmond.
Richmond has worked at the Board of Oil & Gas Conservation for 31 years. And in spite of all the technological advances he's witnessed, some things haven't changed.
"It's still true that regardless of all the high tech tools we have to look for oil, you still have to drill a well to make sure it's there," Richmond said.
"We still end up going back to the rocks, as the permanent record of what they found when the drilled a well," said Richmond.
That means all the information kept on file by the Montana Board of Oil & Gas Conservation, and all the well samples stacked in neat rows, side-by-side, is valuable to someone, someday.
"We have about 11,000 wells that have produced in Montana, out of 45,000 drilled," said Richmond. "And we have enough storage here to handle another 50 years worth of drilling," said Richmond.
Richmond points to the latest Montana production figures to indicate that the state's oil and gas world is on the upswing.
Montana's oil and gas production finished 2012 on a positive note, exceeding 2011 production by about 10 percent.
By the end of October 2012, Montana was producing 2.4 million barrels of oil/month.
The state's record oil production occurred back in October of 2006, with more than 3 million barrels/month produced.
Complete 2012 production figures for Montana should be available in early March.