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Slow growth in ND oil production

Dave Thompson, Prairie Public
ND Mineral Resource Director Lynn Halms

"Flat as a pancake."

That’s how North Dakota Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms described the increase in oil production from April to May.

It was up by only 4400 barrels – or .4 percent. Daily production went from 1,123,166 barrels in April to 1,127, 517.

"A little surprising there," Helms said at his monthly Director's Cut briefing. "Road restrictions had mostly come off, and we were expecting more completion activity in May."

Helms said he does expect an uptick in activity in June, July and August. But he said a big barrier to that is a lack of “frack crews.”

"My inspectors are reporting only 8 frack crews in the field," Helms said. "At these prices, we would normally have 20 to 25 frack crews."

Helms said many of the people working on frack crews have moved to Texas and New Mexico.

"Obviously, it's going to take some incentives — pay incentives and housing incentives — to get those people to come back to North Dakota," Helms said.

Also, Helms said oil companies are ramping up recruiting efforts aimed toward high school seniors.

"There are fantastic opportunities to train young men and women who are in high school right now in western North Dakota to be this workforce," Helms said.

Helms said other jobs are available in the industry as well. He said that effort was just getting going, when COVID-19 hit, and schools went virtual.

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