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North Dakota swimming in oil -- report draws worldwide interest

BISMARCK, N.D. - A report that as much as 4.3 billion barrels of oil could be recovered from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and eastern Montana is drawing worldwide interest, a state official says.

"We have had contacts from Scotland and Australia today," state Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said Friday.

The oil industry is interested, and so are banks, Helms said. "I think they are looking for a place to invest venture capital," he said.

The U.S. Geological Survey issued the report on the U.S. side of the Bakken.

Since oil was reported in North Dakota in 1951, the state has produced about 1.6 billion barrels. Last year's total was 45 million barrels of oil, with only 16 percent of it from the Bakken formation.

The new assessment from USGS means "we have plenty of oil to stay in the oil business the rest of this century," Helms said. "We were pretty pleased with it."