Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics (MS)

College, School or Department Name

School of Business and Economics


Mark C. Robert


Gary A. Campbell


Increases in oil prices after the economic recession have been surprising for domestic oil production in the United States since the beginning of 2009. Not only did the conventional oil extraction increase, but unconventional oil production and exploration also improved greatly with the favorable economic conditions. This favorable economy encourages companies to invest in new reservoirs and technological developments. Recently, enhanced drilling techniques including hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have been supporting the domestic economy by way of unconventional shale and tight oil from various U.S. locations. One of the main contributors to this oil boom is the unconventional oil production from the North Dakota Bakken field. Horizontal drilling has increased oil production in the Bakken field, but the economic issues of unconventional oil extraction are still debatable due to volatile oil prices, high decline rates of production, a limited production period, high production costs, and lack of transportation. The economic profitability and viability of the unconventional oil play in the North Dakota Bakken was tested with an economic analysis of average Bakken unconventional well features. Scenario analysis demonstrated that a typical North Dakota Bakken unconventional oil well is profitable and viable as shown by three financial metrics; net present value, internal rate of return, and break-even prices.