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U.S. Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) on Monday marked the 1 billionth barrel of crude oil produced in the Bakken Shale. The large shale play reached the milestone late in the first quarter.Since 2000, oil companies drilling in the Bakken have produced more than 850 million barrels of crude in North Dakota and over 150 million barrels in Montana. The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources estimates that the state will mark 3 billion barrels of total production sometime next year.The U.S. Geological Survey has called the Bakken the largest continuous oil accumulation it has ever assessed, said Walsh in a press release. "The Bakken boom has strengthened Montana’s economy and helped our nation to move away from reliance on foreign oil," he said.As debate over the Keystone XL Pipeline drags on and President Barack Obama's administration continues to delay the project, it's important to note how much has changed in the American energy sector in less than a decade, he wrote in a statement submitted to the Congressional Record."What does a billion barrels from the Bakken mean? That is one billion barrels of oil that did not come from places like Iran, Venezuela, Algeria or Russia," Walsh wrote. "One billion barrels of oil whose exploration, development, production, transportation and refining occurred in the United States, injecting cash and strengthening our economy at home."Much of the potential posed by the nation's proved crude reserves has yet to be tapped, according to U.S. oil producer Continental Resources Inc. The Bakken appears to be the largest oil field discovered in the world in more than 40 years, Continental Resources officials said in a press release."This milestone validates the immense potential of the Bakken field and development is just beginning. Two-thirds of this oil was produced in the last three years," said Jack Stark, Continental Resources' senior vice president of exploration.