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ND oil production again over one million barrels a day

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

A big surprise in the October oil production numbers -- North Dakota's oil production is back over one million barrels a day.

The count was 1,043,207 barrels per day -- up from 971,760 in Sepetember.

"That's a 7 1/2 increase," said state Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms at his monthly "Director's Cut" briefing. Helms attributed the increase to better oil prices.

"The oil price in October went above $40 a barrel for the first time since june, 2015," Helms said. "For the first time in 18 months, we saw sustained plus-$40 prices for North Dakota sweet crude."

But Helms said he doesn't expect the production numbers to stay above teh million-per-day mark. The reason: cold weather.

"We're not going to see a lot of those idle wells put on production," Helms said. "The weather is going to discourage operators from fracking and putting workover rigs in the field."

There was one concern in the monthly report – natural gas flaring rose to 15 percent. State pipeline authority director Justin Kringstad said a big reason for that was the planned temporary shutdown of the Alliance natural gas pipeline during several days in August. That pipeline originates in Canada.

"During that outage, which took place from Oct. 12th to Oct. 20th, the entire Alliance pipeline system was shut down," Kringstad said.

That included the Prairie Rose and Tioga Lateral connecting lines. And Kringstad said wells in Mountrail County were forced to flare that gas. He said that should no longer be an issue.

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