Making history: ND exceeds 5 billion barrels of produced oil

BISMARCK – North Dakota exceeded production of 5 billion barrels of oil from the Bakken and Three Forks formations at the end of February, according to the director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources.

Lynn Helms noted the milestone on Friday during his monthly report of North Dakota oil and gas production.

“That’s pretty significant because North Dakota’s total cumulative from all pools is 6.9 billion, so 1.9 billion from all the other formations and pools in the state, dominantly the Mission Canyon (Formation). But 5 billion barrels from the Bakken and Three Forks puts us at that 6.9 billion barrel mark.

“We’ve talked a lot recently about what that means. We think with full development and with the utilization of our natural gas resources dominantly finding in-state utilization prospects that we’ll be able to move that to 9 or 10 billion ultimately with primary recovery only,” Helms said.

The oil industry’s celebration of reaching 5 billion barrels of oil produced in North Dakota since oil was discovered in 1951 near Tioga will occur at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference.The 31st annual conference will be held May 14-16 at the Bismarck Event Center in Bismarck.

In his monthly report, Helms said North Dakota produced 1,246,691 barrels of oil a day in February, an increase of 13% from the previous month, when the state produced 1,102,976 barrels of oil a day in January. The numbers normally are about two months behind.

“It was a very good month for the state, recovering from the late December, early January winter weather. February was a pretty good month,” Helms said.

Along with the 13% increase in oil production, he said, natural gas production jumped to 3.36 billion cubic feet a day, a 12% increase in production.

Helms said recent oil prices are very strong. On Friday, North Dakota sweet crude was selling for $76.50 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate at $85.02. The all-time high was $125.62 for N.D. sweet crude and $134.02 for West Texas Intermediate in June 2008.

On Friday, 36 rigs were actively drilling in North Dakota. That number is slightly lower than in March, when 40 rigs were drilling, and in February, when 38 rigs were drilling.

“We have been told by companies – by operators – that they are looking at adding a couple rigs as we get into the summer season,” Helms said.

In March, 72 wells were permitted and 300 wells were waiting on completions, according to the report. Fifty-six (preliminary number) wells were completed.

The state had 18,734 (preliminary number) of producing wells in February. In January, the state had 18,703 producing wells.

Helms said 12 frac crews were working in the state on Friday.

As the state is coming out of winter weather and road restrictions, he said, truck activity is down slightly.

Helms said there is good activity on Fort Berthold Reservation, with seven rigs running but very few wells being completed.

“Only one well was being completed between January and February,” he said.

The reservation produced 135,930 barrels of oil a day. There are 2,662 active wells, 24 wells waiting on completion and 127 approved drilling permits on the reservation.


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