Major milestone

BISMARCK It’s official. North Dakota has reached and surpassed its millionth barrel of oil production a day, state officials said Tuesday.

Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources in Bismarck, announced that the state produced more than 1 million barrels of oil a day in April, a preliminary all-time high.

Oil and gas production numbers are normally about two months behind.

The majority of the production is from the Bakken and Three Forks formations. The rest, about 6 percent, is from legacy conventional pools.

In 2000, North Dakota produced fewer than 100,000 barrels of oil per day, the office of Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., reported.

The state had 10,658 producing wells in April, another all-time high, state officials said.

“Reaching the 1 million barrel a day mark is a tremendous and timely milestone for the petroleum industry and our state, but it is also a tremendous milestone for our nation,” said Hoeven. He said the nation must build its domestic energy resources and reduce its reliance on Middle Eastern oil to strengthen America’s national and economic security.

Hoeven said that nationally, there was more good news during the past week.

“The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that the United States in 2013 produced 84 percent of its energy needs domestically, and North Dakota has clearly been a big part of getting there,” he said.

“So today, we celebrate and congratulate all who have worked so hard to bring North Dakota to this historic watershed. We need to continue as a state to build on our successes to create a brighter future for all North Dakotans,” Hoeven said.

“One million barrels per day is a distinction only reached by the largest oil plays in the world,” said Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. “This is good news not just for North Dakota, but for the rest of the country. Recent events in Iraq make it clear energy security is more important than ever, and the Williston Basin is the reason we are seeing a reduction in foreign oil dependence. Our state has the solutions to what ails our country, but we are still waiting on the federal government to get on board in many areas including the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Thirty percent of the oil produced in North Dakota comes from the Fort Berthold Reservation.

According to Helms, 20 rigs are drilling on the reservation. The reservation has 1,174 active wells producing 300,770 barrels of oil per day.

“This is a major accomplishment for North Dakota as a million barrels of oil production was once thought of as unreachable before the Bakken, and now it has happened,” said Tex Hall, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes. “This also means the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation is 30 percent of that and if we were a state, the MHA Nation would be No. 7 in the U.S.”

“The Bakken has blessed us all for this achievement. Congratulations to our state and tribal nation,” Hall said.

As of Tuesday, 189 rigs were actively drilling in the North Dakota oil patch.

Helms noted that currently no rigs are actively drilling on federal surface in the Dakota Prairie Grasslands in western North Dakota.

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council in Bismarck, an organization that represents 500 companies involved in the oil and gas industry, said the Bakken has become the 10th oil field in the world’s history to ever reach 1 million barrels of production per day.

“This is a significant milestone that few countries and even fewer states have ever reached, underscoring the influence North Dakota has in enhancing our national security and our state and national economies. Until April, only Texas, one Canadian province and 19 countries were producing 1 million barrels per day, putting North Dakota among the top oil producers in the entire world.”

He said the 1 million barrels of production per day has positive benefits for the state and national economies and job growth. He said 1 million barrels is estimated to generate $50 million per day in economic activity and will contribute more than $11 million per day at the current oil price for a Bakken sweet crude barrel. The sweet crude price on Tuesday was $91.75 a barrel.

Ness said drilling is expected to continue for at least 14 to 17 more years, if not more, resulting in several more decades of production and benefits to the state’s and nation’s economies.