BISMARCK - North Dakota has tied with California in oil production, leaving it on the verge of leapfrogging "The Golden State."
North Dakota then will become No. 3 in oil production, following only Alaska and the No. 1 state, Texas.
In December 2011, North Dakota produced an all-time high of 535,000 barrels of oil a day, according to preliminary figures, said Alison Ritter, public information officer with the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources in Bismarck.
Eloise Ogden/MDN • North Dakota now has tied with California as the No. 3 state in oil production. North Dakota is setting many new records in oil and gas production. Here, pumping units work Dec. 14 in the oil field east of New Town.
North Dakota's oil production tie with California is based on California's October statistic, the most recent one, of about 535,000 barrels of oil produced a day.
North Dakota regulators predicted late last year the state could surpass California in early 2012. They figure North Dakota possibly will surpass Alaska later this year.
The number of wells actually producing in North Dakota for the month of December was another all-time high of 6,471, although for the year 2011 it was 6,565, Ritter said.
N.D. oil, gas production stats
December oil: 535,000 barrels/day (preliminary all-time high)
December gas: 544,224 MCF/day (preliminary all-time high)
December producing wells: 6,471 (all-time high)
Total 2011 oil production: 153 million barrels.
Rig count, as of Friday: 203
Source: N.D. Department of Mineral Resources
The total December 2011 oil production for North Dakota was 16.5 million barrels of oil, Ritter said.
For all of 2011, the state produced 153 million barrels of oil. That was 40 million barrels more of oil than in 2010, Ritter said.
Once the preliminary numbers for November 2011 were finalized, she said the figure was 2 billion barrels produced in the state since North Dakota began oil production. As of October 1989, 1 billion barrels of oil were produced.
"The first barrel was in April 1951," Ritter said.
Lynn Helms, director of the N.D. Department of Mineral Resources, said in his monthly "Director's Cut," a report about the oil and gas development on the state, that North Dakota also had a preliminary all-time high in gas production of 16.9 million cubic feet or 544,224 MCF a day. His report was released Friday.
As of Friday, 203 rigs were actively drilling in the state. The all-time high was 204 on Jan. 25-27, according to Helms.
He said the warm, dry weather through the fourth quarter of 2011 increased hydraulic fracturing activity and rapidly increased production. Over 95 percent of the drilling is still targeting the Bakken and Three Forks formations, he said.
He said under 300 wells are waiting for fracturing services, which are now keeping up with drilling activity, but more crews are needed to catch up.
Leasing activity in the state is primarily renewals and top leases in the Bakken-Three Forks. Drilling permit activity is high, but still well below record levels, Helms said. His full report can be seen at (www.dmr.nd.gov/oilgas/).