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    Marathon Moves to North Dakota

    Oil company buys 200,000 acres to expand its oil drilling processes.

    DICKINSON, N.D. -- Marathon Oil Co. has opened its newest office here, where it will oversee the drilling and rigging of 200,000 acres of land, reported the Bismark Tribune.

    Houston-based Marathon leased the land to drill into the middle Bakken formation -- a source of bedrock oil that spans western North Dakota to eastern Montana -- where it will be drilling approximately 300 wells over the next five years, according to Steve Guidry, vice president of Marathon.

    The Bakken region has been productive in Montana, and industry leaders hope that Marathon, with North Sea drilling expertise, an international profile and ample financial resources, can make it just as productive on the North Dakota side.

    High oil prices have helped finance the development, which will total $3 million, Guidry told the Tribune. If oil prices stay between $35 and $50 a barrel, "we're confident we can make this work at that range," Guidry added.

    Once drilling is complete, eight rigs will be set up to produce nearly 20,000 barrels of oil per day. Since finalizing the lease in April, the company has set up two wells and started two more. "What we see has met our expectations," Guidry told the newspaper.

    Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division, said having the $28 billion company in the field will attract other companies when the state holds an oil lease sale in November. "Then it won't just be a bunch of North Dakota scientists hyping North Dakota," Helms said.

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