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ND oil, gas production climbs

Eloise Ogden/MDN North Dakota’s oil production returned to more than a million barrels of oil a day in July, the most recent production figures announced on Tuesday.

BISMARCK – North Dakota oil production returned to more than a million barrels of oil a day in July following a recent decline.

In July, the state produced more than 1.040 million barrels of oil a day, the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources reported on Tuesday. That’s an increase compared to the final figure for June when the state produced 893,591 barrels of oil a day. In May the state produced slightly less than in June.

Natural gas production also increased. North Dakota produced 71 billion cubic feet of natural gas in July. The gas capture rate was 91% (more than 64 billion cubic feet per day) in July. In June the state produced more than 59 billion cubic feet of natural gas. The gas capture rate was 89% (more than 52 billion cubic feet per day).

The production numbers normally are about two months behind.

On Friday, the price of North Dakota Light Sweet crude was $29.25 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was $37.26. The North Dakota market estimate was $33.25. The all-time high for N.D. Light Sweet was $136.29 a barrel on July 3, 2008, and WTI was $145.29 a barrel, also on July 3, 2008.

Fifty-nine wells were completed in July and 14,406 wells were producing that month, according to the report on Tuesday. Both are preliminary numbers. Inactive wells numbered 3,762 and wells waiting on completion numbered 878 in July.

Lynn Helms, director of the Mineral Resources Department, said the number of well completions has been very volatile since March as the number of active completion crews decreased from 25 to 1-5.

He said the lower crude oil price has put extreme downward pressure on rig and completion crew counts.

Helms said unemployment claims indicate about 11,000 layoffs as of Sept. 5, with more jobs at risk due to oil price volatility.

The report also noted Fort Berthold Reservation produced 251,216 (preliminary) barrels of oil. Four rigs were working on the reservation and 2,453 wells were active. The reservation had 163 wells waiting on completion.

Drilling permit activity in the state is slower and more volatile with oil price volatility, according to Helms. “Operators are still attempting to maintain a permit inventory of approximately 12 months and some experienced drilling rig and completion crews,” he said.

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