Not quite up to par

BISMARCK North Dakota has a preliminary new all-time high of 10,100 producing wells but North Dakota’s oil production in January amounted to 933,128 barrels a day, only slightly higher than the previous month’s 926,687 barrels a day.

Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources in Bismarck, said the oil production number was “somewhat disappointing” and less than what he had expected.

The state’s preliminary all-time high for oil production was 976,453 barrels a day in November 2013.

The oil and gas statistics normally are about two months behind.

North Dakota officials have been figuring the state would soon be reaching the 1 million mark for oil production. Helms said Thursday at a news conference when releasing the new production numbers, that reaching the 1 million mark may not happen until April, although he said he could get a surprise that it happens sooner.

He said the biggest production impact in January was the weather; 12 days in January had sustained wind speeds that were too high for rig work.

He also said there are more than 100 wells shut in for the Tioga gas plant conversion in an attempt to minimize flaring. He said the gas plant is expected to be up and running by the end of the month.

Helms said the drilling rig count was down from December to January and the number of well completions dropped from 119 to 60. The days from spud to initial production decreased 10 days to 122, he said.

The number of producing wells in January did reach a preliminary new all-time high of 10,100 60 more than reported the previous month.

Helms said there’s “lots of seismic activity” and drilling permit activity was up in January.

Looking ahead, Helms said Mountrail and Williams counties have placed road restrictions as of today and Stark County did so earlier.

He said the Bureau of Land Management will hold a meeting next week in Denver to continue discussions on implementing proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.

Helms said 30 percent or one-third of the state’s production comes from the Fort Berthold Reservation and the BLM rules would have an impact on wells on the reservation. “It will have a very significant impact,” he added.

He said BLM also is starting the process of new venting and flaring regulations.

Helms’ report is available at the N.D. Oil and Gas Division’s website at (, then go to Director’s Cut for March 13, 2013.