Moving on up

North Dakota is No. 2 in oil production in the nation, but two counties in the state, McKenzie and Mountrail, also are heading for a No. 2 slot.

McKenzie and Mountrail, the two largest oil-producing counties in North Dakota, are on their way to joining California as the third largest producing onshore entity, said Rory Nelson, state energy impact coordinator.

“They’re going to be sitting right there with California,” Nelson said.

If the two counties didn’t pass California by the end of 2013, they will by early 2014, he said.

Production numbers released each month normally are about two months behind. The most recent numbers released are for November 2013 production.

In November, McKenzie County produced about 8.8 million barrels of oil and Mountrail County produced about 7.6 million.

“Those counties are going to be the second largest oil-producing onshore entity next to Texas two counties in North Dakota. Whoever could have thought that would have happened. That is huge,” Nelson said, adding, “I don’t think anybody could have dreamed that 10 years ago.”

Nelson spoke at the Jan. 23 meeting of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce’s Energy Committee at the Vegas Motel in Minot.

“For quite a while, they (Mountrail) were leading the state in oil production. In March 2013, McKenzie County passed them,” Nelson said.

By the end of 2013, McKenzie County will be at about a million barrels a day ahead of Mountrail County, Nelson said.

“McKenzie County is where most of the rigs sit today and have for quite awhile. They’re leaps and bounds ahead of everybody else,” he said.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple named Nelson, of Williston, the state energy impact coordinator in July 2013. He replaced Wayne Biberdorf, of Williston, who was the state’s first energy impact coordinator.

Nelson said McKenzie County has 30.1 percent of the oil production in North Dakota in November 2013. “This has moved up from the lower 20s (percent) earlier in the year to 30 (percent),” he said.

The other top four oil-producing counties in North Dakota are. according to the November 2013 statistics:

– Mountrail County, 25.9 percent.

– Dunn County, 16 percent.

– Williams County, 14.6 percent.

“You’ve got 86.6 percent of the production in the state in those four counties,” Nelson said.

He said by adding Divide County’s oil production into the mix, that’s another 4.1 percent.

“You’re up over 90 percent (90.7 percent) of the oil production in five counties,” he said.

The remaining of the counties in the 17 oil-producing counties have 9.3 percent of the oil production in the state, he said.