After dropping in February, North Dakota oil production rebounded in March.
In January, North Dakota produced 1,403,808 barrels per day. That dropped in February to 1,335,591. But state mineral resources director Lynn Helms, in his monthly "Director's Cut," reported March production went up, to 1,390.138 barrels per day.
"That's still about 13,000 barrels per day short of the record," Helms said.
Helms said the weather in February and the first half of March was brutal.
"There was literally nothing moving," Helms said.
That changed after mid-March.
"I fully anticipate that, starting with April, we'll get back to setting records," Helms said.
Helms said natural gas production did set a record in March. But he said the gas capture rate has dropped to 80 percent. By rule, the target is 88 percent.
"The volume (of gas) captured was at an all-time high," Helms said. "But production overran it."
And Helms said it may be well into the fourth quarter of this year before new gas processing plants are up and running.
"This is going to be a long and difficult battle," Helms said.
There are still a number of jobs available in North Dakota’s Oil Patch. Helms said as activity continues to ramp up, the “Help Wanted” signs will be out.
Helms said for now, companies are finding enough workers for frack crews.
"But on the other side, gas plant technicians, pumpers, switcher and gaugers, all those jobs -- there's over 1800 job openings," Helms said. "The operators are really struggling to fill those."
Helms said the industry is working with the state Career and Technical Education department, to try and get more students interested in those jobs. He said the industry is looking at training options for juniors and seniors in high school, potentially offering college credits for that training.
"They would be able to walk across the stage (and get their diplomas) on Sunday, and into a job site Monday," Helms said.
Helms said other states with shale plays face the same problem.