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ND’s number of producing wells at all-time high

North Dakota’s number of producing wells reached a new all-time high of 18,753 (preliminary), according to the most recent report of the state’s oil and gas production numbers. In November, the state had 18,743 producing wells.

The report was released on Thursday by the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources.

Numbers released each month are normally about two months behind.

Of the 18,753 producing wells, 16,560 or 88% are unconventional Bakken/Three Forks wells and 2,193 or 12% produce from legacy conventional pools.

The state produced 1,273,071 barrels of oil a day in December, a decline from the previous month when the state produced 1,278,909 barrels of oil a day. The all-time high was 1,519,037 barrels of oil a day in November 2019.

On Thursday, North Dakota sweet crude was selling for $66.50 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate for $76.64.

The state had an increase in natural gas production from November to December. In December, the state produced 109,264,074 million cubic feet (MCF) a day of natural gas. In November, the state produced 104,075,685 MCF a day.

The natural gas capture rate remained at 95% in December as it was in November.

According to the report, in January, 78 wells were permitted, an increase from December, when 57 wells were permitted.

In December, 331 wells were waiting on completion. The month before 345 wells were waiting on completion.

Fort Berthold Reservation produced 143,665 barrels of oil a day in December. Seven rigs were actively working on the reservation. Both in November and December the reservation had 2,661 active wells and 19 wells waiting on completion. In December, 138 drilling permits were approved and in November, that number was 150. The reservation has the potential of 3,891 future wells.

“The drilling rig count remains low due to workforce, mergers and acquisitions but is expected to return to the mid-40s with a gradual increase expected over the next two years,” said Lynn Helms, director of the Mineral Resources Department.

He said there are 13 frac crews active in North Dakota.

Drilling activity is expected to slowly increase, with operators expected to maintain a permit inventory of about a year, according to Helms.

“Saudi Arabia and Russia announced continued oil production cuts amounting to 4.7 million bpd (barrels per day) until the end of the year. Middle East conflict, Russia sanctions, China economic activity, potential recessions and shifting crude oil supply chains continue to create significant price volatility,” Helms said.

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