North Dakota sets new oil and gas production records in May

By Patrick C. Miller | July 16, 2018

North Dakota set new production records for both oil and gas for the month of May, according to preliminary data released Friday by the state’s Oil and Gas Division.

North Dakota is now producing 1,244,629 barrels of oil per day—an increase of 17,146 barrels from the last record set in December 2014. Gas production reached a new record level of 2.32 billion cubic feet per day. The state also set a new all-time high for producing wells with 14,755.

“This is a very encouraging time for North Dakota as oil and gas operators and service companies have developed drilling rigs that are twice as efficient as they were in 2014 to drill and complete permitted wells,” said Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources. “Closing the gap between current wells producing and the wells capable of producing will add to 2018 production numbers, so we should continue to reach new highs.”

However, the Oil and Gas Division also announced gas capture was at 83 percent in May. The current capture goal is 85 percent and is scheduled to increase to 88 percent in November. This is the first time since October 2017 that industry has not met the commission goal.

“Missing the gas capture goal for May is disappointing, but can be attributed in large part to gas plant maintenance,” Helms said. “The department is meeting with operators and midstream companies to encourage working together to divert gas when needed to use 100 percent of available capacity and to think creatively on how they plan to meet future goals.”

Helms said operators have shifted from running the minimum number of rigs to incremental increases and decreases as the WTI oil price moves between $45 and $60 per barrel. “WTI would have to drop below $45 per barrel for more than 30 days for rig count to drop,” he noted. “WTI has remained above $55 per barrel for more than 90 days, so rig count is expected to continue increasing.”

Current operator plans are to add one to five more rigs in the third and fourth quarters of 2018, depending on workforce and infrastructure constraints, Helms said. Production data for the close of the second quarter is scheduled to be released August 15.