ND oil production falls slightly in December

Eloise Ogden/MDN North Dakota’s production of oil dropped slightly in December but remains above a million barrels of oil a day.

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s oil production made a slight dip again with 1.192 million barrels of oil produced in December 2020. In November 2020 the state produced 1.227 million barrels of oil.

The most recent figures were released by the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources on Friday.

Lynn Helms, director of the Mineral Resources Department, said in his report the OPEC+ agreement to cut 7.2 million barrels per day expired. He said OPEC+ met on Feb. 3 “emphasizing the ongoing positive contributions of the Declaration of Cooperation in supporting a rebalancing of the global oil market and noting the significant additional voluntary supply adjustment made by Saudi Arabia, taking effect on 1 February, 2021, for two months. Overall conformity with the original production adjustments was 101 per cent.” He said they will discuss production again at their March 2021 meetings “with a general consensus to maintain $45-$55 WTI (West Texas Intermediate.”

“The two biggest uncertainties are COVID and Biden administration policies on Iran,” Helms also said in his report.

On Friday, the price of crude oil was $48.25 for North Dakota light sweet and $58.21 for WTI.

The state’s natural gas production came to 89,680,150 MCF or 2,892,908 MCF a day in December. The gas capture percentage in December was 94%, one percent higher than in November.

Fifteen rigs were actively working in the oil field on Friday, an increase from January when 12 rigs were working. No rigs were working on federal surface.

The state had 15,798 (preliminary number) of producing wells in December, with 13,686 or 87% from unconventional Bakken-Three Forks and 2,112 or 13% from legacy conventional pools. The all-time high was 16,280 in March 2020. There were 668 wells waiting on completion in December and 2,687 wells were inactive.

In December Fort Berthold Reservation’s production was 299,059 barrels of oil a day, according to the report. Five rigs, same as in November, were actively drilling on the reservation and 2,523 wells were active.

Helms said the drilling rig count is down 75% January to December 2020. He also said the number of well completions as been “very volatile since March as the number of active completion crews dropped from 25 to 1 then climbed back up to 6 this month.”

He said lower crude oil prices in 2020 put extreme downward pressure on rig and completion crew counts. He said unemployment claims are published each week and indicate about 13,300 unemployment claims as of Feb. 6 “with more jobs at risk due to winter weather.”

Helms said the crude oil transportation capabity “including rail deliveries to coastal refineries is adequate, but could be disrupted due to:

– U.S. Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit upholding of a lower court ruling protecting the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community’s right to sue to enforce an agreement that restricts the number of trains that can cross its reservation in northwest Washington state.

– A possible shut down of DAPL’s (Dakota Access Pipeline) in Civil Action No. 16-1534.”


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