Oil reserves worth approximately $118 billion are still lying under the Bakken/Three Forks Shale play system in Montana and North Dakota, according to a new estimate by research and consultancy group Wood Mackenzie. What's more, the play is extremely profitable, as the analysis claims that each one of the sub-plays yields positive returns.

Jonathan Garrett, Americas upstream research analyst for Wood Mackenzie, explained that production from the Bakken/Three Forks Shale is predicted to come in at about 1.1 million barrels per day in 2014, but this is likely to grow to 1.7 million by 2020.

Even today, the Bakken Shale is producing more oil than any other unconventional play worldwide. Still, production is far from having peaked, as an estimated $15 billion will be invested in drilling operations and completion in 2014, Garrett said. Investments in the area will come second only to expenditure on projects in the Eagle Ford play in Texas.

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Well costs at the Bakken/Three Forks shale are still falling, averaging at about $7 million to $8 million per well, compared to over $10 million before 2011. In total, over the lifecycle of the Bakken shale, companies are predicted to recover more than 20 billion barrels of oil reserves, the Wood Mackenzie analysis found. Perhaps unexpectedly, the lack of infrastructure is not likely to be a significant obstacle for development of the play.