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North Dakota oil, gas production returns to record level – INFORUM

North Dakota oil, gas production returns to record level – INFORUM

The state produced an average of nearly 1.27 million barrels of oil per day in July, a new all-time high, released on Friday, September 14, by provisional figures, by the ministry of mineral resources.

Oil production in July fell by 3.4 percent and surpassed the previous record of 1.25 million barrels per day that was set in May.

Also on Friday, the North Dakota Pipeline Authority presented new projections on how long the development of the wells of Bakken and Three Forks in North Dakota can continue under current oil prices.

"There is still somewhere between 20 and 60 years of drilling stock in the state at the price of today," said director Justin Kringstad. "That will only get bigger as the prices rise."

Kringstad, who presented to the North Dakota Industrial Commission, said that his findings are based on the industry that continues at a rate with the addition of 1,200 oil wells a year. The projections also take into account the current technology and do not include the potential for improved oil extraction.

Factors that could limit the growth of oil production in North Dakota remain the shortage of labor and the flaring of natural gas, said mineral resources director Lynn Helms.

The state has 65 oil rigs that are operational from Friday, a number that could be closer to 70 if the industry could hire more hydraulic breakers, Helms said.

Natural gas production reached a record 2.4 billion cubic feet per day in July, an increase of 4.3 percent.

The volume of natural gas blown out in July also reached a new peak, as operators deviated by approximately 436 million cubic feet per day due to insufficient processing and pipeline capacity.

As a percentage, flaring around the world rose from 17 to 18 percent in July. For Bakken natural gas, on which the Gas Commission's gas extraction targets are based, the flare rate was 16 percent, with the target missing for the third consecutive month.

According to the state's policy, operators are not allowed to fire more than 15 percent of natural gas, or catch 85 percent.

"We do not meet the gas extraction targets of the commission," Helms said.

Helms attributed part of the July increase to significant downtime that month in the Andeavor Robinson Lake gas plant.

Regulators have not carried out an analysis of the flaring numbers of companies to determine whether some operators have to limit oil production to exceed the flare limits of the government.

"In this kind of volumes I would expect there to be restrictions," Helms said.

In June, however, 12 companies broke out more than 15 percent of Natural Gas Bake and no oil production restrictions under current policy.

Most of the flaring comes from wells that are connected to a pipeline but there is insufficient capacity or other infrastructure to catch all the gas, Kringstad said. The state, however, sees a revival in new sources that have not yet been connected to a gas pipeline, he said.

North Dakota now has 14,972 oil and gas wells, another record for the state.