N.D. oil, gas production numbers going higher

BISMARCK North Dakota’s oil and gas production continues to climb.

The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources announced Monday that oil production rose 2.1 percent in May, with 810,129 barrels a day, according to preliminary numbers. In April, oil production was 793,852 barrels a day.

The May figures are the most recent numbers available.

Total oil production for the state was 25,114,011 barrels in May. Total production in April was 23,815,546 barrels.

North Dakota is No. 2 in oil production in the country.

The state also had a preliminerily new all-time high for gas production with 899,977 MCF a day. That was an increase of 38,784 MCF compared to the April gas production number of 861,193 MCF a day.

May total gas production was 27,899,280 MCF and April’s was 25,835,802 MCF.

The number of producing wells in the state in May reached a preliminerily new all-time high of 8,915 an increase of 143 wells compared to April when there were 8,772 producing wells.

As of Monday, 187 rigs were actively drilling in the oil patch, according to the N.D. Oil and Gas Division, a division of the Mineral Resources Department.

Lynn Helms, director of the N.D. Department of Mineral Resources, in his monthly online Director’s Cut report, said the drilling rig count rose by only one from April to May, but the number of well completions rose by 10, to 143. He said the number of completions is above the threshold needed to maintain production so the oil production rate rose, up 2.1 percent from April. However, the drilling rigs continue to outpace completion crews.

He said his department estimated that at the end of May there were 500 wells waiting on completion services.

Helms said the average number of days to drill a well from spud process to begin drilling a well to total depth is now just under 22, but the average number of days from total depth to initial production has increased to 92.

He said load restrictions remained in place longer than ever before because May was the wettest on record.

“Uncertainty surrounding federal policies on taxation and hydraulic fracturing regulation continue to make investors nervous. Pressure on the federal budget has led to a budget proposal that eliminates deductions for intangible drilling costs and the depletion allowance,” Helms said.

He said more than 95 percent of the drilling still targets the Bakken and Three Forks Formations. He said leasing activity in the state is slow and consisting of mostly renewals and top leases in the Bakken-Three Forks areas.

Very little drilling activity is being done on the federal surface in the Dakota Prairie Grasslands. The number of rigs actively drilling there is down one from two, Helms said.

He said the number of rigs drilling on the Fort Berthold Reservation is down four to 21, with six on fee lands (lands not held in trust by the federal government) and 15 on trust lands. The reservation has a total of 935 active wells 839 on fee lands and 96 on trust lands. There are 177 wells on the reservation waiting on completion.