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Ban, Boom, or Bust? A Review of Legal Issues Associated With Crude Oil Exports From the United States

Mark R. Haskell, Levi McAllister, 61st Annual Institute Proceedings (2015)

For over 100 years, the population of North Dakota remained relatively unchanged. In 2009, North Dakota was the only state in the United States that had fewer residents than it did in 1930. Recently, however, its population has increased by over 14%, from 645,903 in 2009 to 739,482 in 2014. Driving this population growth is the Bakken formation, an oil deposit that lies beneath North Dakota, Montana, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan and is thought to be the largest oil deposit in the lower 48 states.
The Bakken formation is one of many similar formations that have been driving increases in domestic oil production. In 2015, domestic production is expected to hit its highest level since 1972. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the analytical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, production levels are expected to increase from 8.7 million barrels per day in 2014, to 9.2 million in 2015, and to 9.31 million in 2016.
The boom in domestic production begins with the discovery of new sources of tight oil from existing shale formations. The phrase “tight oil” refers to “ordinary, light crude oil contained in formations of low permeability.” The defining characteristic is that the formation consists of rock that is insufficiently porous to allow tight oil to flow through a solitary hole drilled into the formation. Domestically produced crude from such fo