The first North Dakotan I ever met wasn't an oilman.
He was a bartender.
I wasn't supposed to stop in Portal, North Dakota, that afternoon.
It was one of my first sojourns to Alberta, and I was on the tail end of a 15-hour driving shift when my traveling companion and I decided to take a break...
When our talk at the bar turned to oil, the bartender joined our conversation. In fact, he was the first person to introduce me to the Bakken.
And something he said, well, I'll never forget it. He had just finished telling us about his father's ties to some company or another that was drilling for oil in the state decades ago, when he laughed and said they'll produce a million barrels per day, if they got it right.
We've stayed in touch since my trip, and last year I sent him an email telling him I had a feeling his prediction would come true within five years.
As it turns out, I was way off — because it may have already happened.
The 88,504 Barrel Countdown
When North Dakota's latest production numbers came out, we found out the state produced a mind-blowing 911,496 barrels of oil per day in August.
For the record, another 88,504 barrels needs to be added to the state's daily production before it reaches the one-million-barrels-per-day mark.
Look at it this way: According to the state's oil and gas division, oil production climbed more than 89,000 bbls/day between June and the August.
Taking that growth into account would mean North Dakota might be producing more than a million barrels a day right now!
Interestingly, one man in particular thinks production in this region is about to head higher.
You might recognize Harold Hamm as the head of Continental Resources, easily one of North Dakota's biggest oil drillers. And his prediction goes far beyond the estimates made by my friend tending bar in Portal.
Hamm is expecting production in the Bakken Shale to top two million barrels per day one day.
And he's not the only one with big expectations...
Some of the largest oil-producing counties in North Dakota have high hopes over the next five years (click image to enlarge).
Beware the Breakout
There's hardly a soul in the market today that hasn't heard about the Bakken by now. I've no doubt you've seen this oil boom flood mainstream media headlines at one point or another.
And trust me when I say the Bakken's exposure is about to reach a whole new level when news breaks that North Dakota is producing more than one million barrels per day (and I believe we'll see that headline before we ring in the New Year)...
Just think what could happen if Hamm is right — and output doubles to two million barrels per day.
Ever wonder what a field of that size looks like?
We actually have two nearby examples from history...
One is the Prudhoe Bay oil field, which helped production in Alaska's North Slope average more than two million barrels per day back in 1989. The other, and perhaps more famous of the two, was the Cantarell oil field, which peaked at 2.1 million barrels per day roughly 13 years ago.
Most of us are wondering if there's more than just hype left in the Bakken.
I'm telling you today that I know there is.
Until now, it's been all too easy to see how Bakken drillers like Hamm have drastically outperformed the rest of the field — especially inside the last six months.
The chart above is only one example of the returns you would've seen putting your hard-earned money in the Bakken Shale, compared to whales like ExxonMobil.
You see, Hamm's success isn't from simply being in the right place at the right time, but rather how he's drilling his company's acreage in North Dakota.
If things play out the way he expects, Continental Resources' daily production would top 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day — which also means it would be one of the ten largest oil-producing states in the country.
That's not a case of wishful thinking, mind you...
Consider them part of a new breed of drillers in the U.S. oil industry — the ones that will be responsible for driving North American oil production to record levels.
Until next time,
A true insider in the energy markets, Keith is one of few financial reporters to have visited the Alberta oil sands. His research has helped thousands of investors capitalize from the rapidly changing face of energy. Keith connects with hundreds of thousands of readers as the Managing Editor of Energy & Capital as well as Investment Director of Angel Publishing's Energy Investor. For years, Keith has been providing in-depth coverage of the Bakken, the Haynesville Shale, and the Marcellus natural gas formations — all ahead of the mainstream media. For more on Keith, go to his editor's page.