BISMARCK North Dakota hit a preliminary all-time high record in oil production in October by producing more than 15 million barrels of oil that month.
The October daily rate was 488,066 barrels.
The total is about 1.2 million more barrels of oil than in September when the state produced more than 13.9 million barrels. The daily rate in September was 464,887 barrels.
Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources in Bismarck, reported in his monthly online report on oil development in North Dakota, that the state also reached other all-time highs in October.
Another preliminary all-time high was 15.7 MCF in gas production, at a daily rate of 506,242 MCF a day. MCF is an abbreviation for a thousand cubic feet of natural gas. The September gas total was 14.4 MCF and 482,285 MCF a day.
The number of producing wells in the state reached an all-time high of 6,202 in October, up 131 from September.
Drilling activity is high, but still below record levels, Helms said.
In October, the state issued 169 permits for drilling. No seismic permits were issued. The all-time high was 245 in November 2010. In September, the state issued 176 drilling permits and one seismic permit.
The number of rigs actively drilling in the oil patch fluctuates, but as of Tuesday, 203 rigs were drilling, according to the N.D. Oil and Gas Division's website.The previous all-time record high was Aug. 29-31 when the number reached 201.
Helms said the good weather window has ended, but in October the warm, dry weather pushed hydraulic fracturing activity and production upward.
He said more than 95 percent of the drilling continues to target the Bakken and Three Forks formations.
With record wells in North Dakota setting records in production, officials say the state could surpass California and Alaska to become the No. 2 U.S. oil-producing state.
Contingent on the extent of oil production decline in both of those states, Alison Ritter, public information specialist with the N.D. Department of Mineral Resources, said North Dakota could pass California in early 2012. Catching Alaska would probably take until 2013, she said.
Currently, North Dakota is No. 4 in oil production; California, No. 3; Alaska, No. 2; and Texas, No. 1.