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Oil production drops 20 percent in April

Oil production in North Dakota dropped 20 percent in April

And back-to-back blizzards are to blame.

In his monthly "Director's Cut" briefing, state mineral resources director Lynn Helms said April production averaged 900,507 barrels per day — down from March's number of 1,122,640 barrels per day. Helms also said natural gas production was down 19 percent. He said the problem was a loss of electric power during those storms.

"That rippled through all the way from the 'artificial lift" on the oil wells themselves, to the salt water disposal wells to natural gas compressing," Helms said. "Everything was down."

Helms said two natural gas processing plants produced no gas during those storms.

Helms also said despite the production being down — well below levels contained in the latest state revenue forecast — the price made up for it. He said the price was 139 percent above the revenue forecast.

Helms said it will be a while before prices at the pump and on utility bills will come down. He said supplies of both oil and gas remain very tight.

"I'm looking at the oil prices. I'm looking at the natural gas prices. And I'm telling you there's no relief in sight," Helms said. "Whether it's at the gas station, or at the furnace — supplies are just too tight, and the prices are just too high."

North Dakota currently has 37 drilling rigs working in the Bakken, and has 494 wells waiting on completion. Helms said he expects production to pick back up this summer, and there’s a chance production could come close to 1.2 million barrels per day.

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