Sept. 'Director's Cut:' Oil production up, but so is natural gas flaring

Nov 16, 2017

Mineral resources director Lynn Helms.
Credit ND Department of Mineral Resources

Oil production in September ticked up again.

Production that month went back over 1.1 million barrels a day.

"It's been a year and a half since we saw production over 1.1 million barrels a day," said North Dakota Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms in his monthly "Director's Cut" report. "The last time was March of 2016."

But natural gas production dropped slightly, meaning more gas was flared.

"That hasn't happened since November, 2014," Helms said.

The state's target is 85 percent gas capture. Helms said for September, the capture rate was 83 percent.

"We had six significant what we call 'force majeure' events," Helms said. "Those are unanticipated maintenance problems, or a pipeline being down, or road restrictions, making it impossible to move natural gas liquids, things like that."

Helms said two natural gas compressors were down for repairs. One is back up and running, while the other is awaiting parts. Helms also said there are rights-of-way disputes on the Fort Berthold Reservation dealing with some natural gas pipeline infrastructure.

When asked if he thinks the gas capture targets will be met in the October numbers, Helms said the short answer would be a 'yes.'

"But we are going to struggle month-by-month from now when we go to 88 percent capture in Nov., 2018," Helms said. "We're rapidly approaching the capacity ofwhat we have out there for infrastructure."

Helms said the state needs more natural gas processing plants, to keep up.