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ND oil production up, natural gas flaring down

North Dakota’s oil production grew in September, compared with August.

In his monthly “Director’s Cut” briefing – which reflects reports from September oil and gas production – state mineral resources director Lynn Helms said oil production grew about 1.2 percent – and it’s slightly more than 1.1 million barrels per day. Natural gas production is now over three billion cubic feet per day.

Helms said the good news is only 6 percent of the natural gas is being flared. But he cautions the October numbers might not look that good.

"We had at least three weeks of down time on the Northern Border Pipeline," Helms said. "Capacity was severely reduced. So October could be a downer, in terms of not meeting our gas capture goal."

Helms said North Dakota and New Mexico have been jockeying for position, as to who is the number-two oil producer. He said North Dakota has just regained that spot.

Helms said he does expect slow growth in oil production for the rest of the year – maybe at a rate of 1 to 2 percent.

"There is a lot of interest in next year, and a lot of talk about increased budgets for next year," Helms said. "We're very hopeful that we will double that growth rate."

But Helms said a few of the bigger operators have purchased assets in the Permian Basin – and are concentrating there.

North Dakota currently has 34 rigs working in the oil patch.

Helms also said expect gasoline prices to remain high – for the foreseeable future. He said that’s because OPEC decided to stick to its current production plan, even though it was asked in November to step it up. He also said US crude oil stocks are very low. A year ago, those reserves were very high.

"That's just how volatile things can be," Helms said. "Prices will stay high through the winter, unless there's some big surprise out of OPEC."