Oil & Gas News

North Dakota oil production growth came to a standstill in August

North Dakota Oil Production

Bismarck Tribune – North Dakota oil production in August remained flat, while natural gas production dropped by 1%, the state Department of Mineral Resources reported Thursday.

August oil production was 1.073 million barrels per day. That was up 746 barrels daily from July — “almost dead flat,” state Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said. The state’s oil figures lag two months as officials collect and analyze data from energy companies.

“It’s a preliminary number, and it may go up or down a little bit. But it isn’t even a 1% change,” Helms said, adding that the good news is that oil tax revenue is exceeding the North Dakota forecast by a little more than 7%.

August’s average oil price for North Dakota crude was $90.34 per barrel, Helms said, explaining that exceeded the revenue forecast price by 81%.

“All the buckets are full. And so if you know how North Dakota plans to use oil and gas revenue, we learned from the boom and bust of the 1980s not to count on oil and gas revenue for ongoing bill payments, but to put the money in buckets (funds) and then spend it out of those buckets usually late in the biennium or the following biennium,” he said, referring to the state’s two-year budget cycle.

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August natural gas production in North Dakota totaled 3.09 billion cubic feet per day, down from 3.1 billion cubic feet per day the previous month. The drop in production from July may be due to some plant outages, Helms said.

There was a “steady stream” of oil and gas drilling permit applications in August, he said. The drilling rig count continues to stall out in the mid-forties and is expected to do so for the rest of the year. 

There is a steady stream of newly completed wells, with a projection that September’s numbers will continue to increase.

“So we would seriously anticipate we’re going to see an increase in production for the September report,” he said. “… We’re at a record number of producing wells (in August) but not a record production.”

Producers maintained 94% gas capture in August, the same as in July, and exceeded the state’s 91% target. The rest was burned off at well sites in a wasteful process known as flaring, due to a lack of access to pipelines and processing plants.

Story by Jackie Jahfetson at Bismarck Tribune

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