N.D. oil patch pumps right along
North Dakota's oil patch is on pace to end the year with production up 14 percent from last year. The state's western oil fields have been pumping at an average above 100,000 barrels a day, compared to last year's average of 85,000, said Bruce Hi...
North Dakota's oil patch is on pace to end the year with production up 14 percent from last year.
The state's western oil fields have been pumping at an average above 100,000 barrels a day, compared to last year's average of 85,000, said Bruce Hicks, assistant director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission's oil and gas division.
Production for September, the most recent month recorded, is even higher, up 16.5 percent from the same month the year before.
"I would suspect that will hold true for the rest of the year," Hicks said.
"We're up significantly from the 2004 levels," when North Dakota ranked 10th among 31 oil-producing states, he added.
Last year, North Dakota pumped 30.9 million barrels of crude oil, or 1.5 percent of the nation's production, according to figures recently released by the state data center.
This is the first time since 1998 that daily production has reached the 100,000-barrel range.
Although up from 2003, North Dakota's production last year was no gusher performance, down slightly from normal for the decade.
Since 1995, North Dakota's oil production has averaged almost 32.2 million barrels a year. The state's oil fields peaked in 1984, at 53 million barrels.
Given likely sustained strong demand for oil in the foreseeable future, many believe production will remain at higher levels.
Prices for North Dakota "sweet" crude lately have been running about $51 a barrel, generally $2.50 less than the often-quoted Texas crude oil price, Hicks said.
"We're down considerably from the highs," following the drop in oil refining this fall after Hurricane Katrina, he said of oil prices. "We're down $10 from the peak."
Still, he predicts, "We believe the prices are going to stay up pretty high."
Along with sustained high prices, production is apt to increase, Hicks said.
That's good news for the state's coffers. As of October, the most recent figures, the oil and gas production tax is 70 percent ahead of the forecast and the oil extraction tax is 20 percent over, for a combined $5 million in extra revenues.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522