North Dakota oil production steadily climbs

This oil rig model made by Mitch Greiss is displayed in the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck. Built at 1/48 scale, the model reflects what an oil drilling rig would have looked like in the 1990s. Currently, 57 rigs are actively drilling in North Dakota. Eloise Ogden/MDN

BISMARCK – Oil production in North Dakota is steadily climbing. On Tuesday, the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources reported 1.194 million barrels of oil were produced in the state in November. In October, the state produced 1.183 million barrels of oil.

The November figures for oil and gas production in North Dakota are the most recent ones available.

Gas production reached a new all-time high of 2.095 billion cubic feet a day in November.

The state also had a new all-time high of 14,324 producing wells in November.

As of Tuesday, the price of North Dakota sweet crude reached $54.75 a barrel, according to Flint Hills Resource’s price.

On Tuesday, 57 rigs were actively drilling in the state.

The number of rigs actively drilling on federal surface in the Dakota Prairie Grasslands in western North Dakota remains at two, according to Lynn Helms, director of the Mineral Resources Department.

He said 14 rigs are drilling on the Fort Berthold Reservation and the reservation is producing 238,917 barrels of oil per day. The reservation has 1,762 active wells, 89 wells waiting on completion and 455 approved drilling permits. The reservation has a potential of having 3,818 future wells, Helms said.

He said operators have shifted from running the minimum number of rigs to incremental increases and decreases as West Texas Intermediate oil price moves between $45 and $60 a barrel. If West Texas Intermediate drops below $45 a barrel for more than 30 days, he said the rig count is expected to drop. If West Texas Intermediate remains above $55 a barrel for more than 90 days the rig count is expected to rise. He said current operator plans are to add five to 10 rigs in the second and third quarters of 2018, depending on workforce and infrastructure constraints.

He said the number of well completions has become variable from 81, the final number, in October to 60, the preliminary number, in November.

Helms said the estimated number of wells waiting on completion is 883, down six from the end of October to the end of November. The estimated inactive well count is 1,492, up 21 from the end of October to the end of November.

“Oil price downside risk is now anticipated to last through 2018,” Helms said.