Posted 2/15/12 (Wed)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
North Dakota is in the record-breaking business. Or more accurately, the oil and gas industry has done a lot of record-breaking business in North Dakota this past year.
Actually, every year since 2004, according to Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, North Dakota has been setting oil production records.
The State Industrial Commission states that North Dakota oil drillers produced a record 152.9 million barrels of crude in 2011, which is 35 percent more than the previous record set the year before.
State records also show that North Dakota produced a record 155.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2011, which is 42.9 billion more than in 2010.
“We’ve really had a phenomenal growth rate and this blows previous years’ gains out of the water,” states Ness.
But how does this break down for McKenzie County?
Residents of this large and once sparsely populated rural county are certain of the area’s contribution to 2011’s production total, as increasing traffic and infrastructure expansions and climbing prices and market values have indicated. However, the numbers confirm that McKenzie County is the number one and number two contributor to the state’s production record.
According to the Department of Mineral Resources, in December 2011, of the 17 oil and gas producing counties, McKenzie County topped natural gas production at 4.9 million MCF, over two million MCF more than the previous December.
The county also came in second for oil production with just under 3.6 million barrels produced.
This trend was seen throughout the past year as McKenzie County drastically increased its production totals from 2010, and was consistently the number one natural gas producer and the number two oil producer.
In 2011, McKenzie County produced 68.4 million MCF of natural gas, 42 million MCF more than in 2010. It also produced 29.2 million barrels of oil, 13 million ahead of its 2010 total of 16.2 million barrels, and 20 million behind Mountrail County’s total of 49.7 million.
Two of the biggest reasons for 2011’s record-breaking numbers simply put are weather and infrastructure.
During a time when oil activity usually has no choice but to slow down, Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission Department of Mineral Resources, states that “The warm dry weather through the fourth quarter of 2011 increased hydraulic fracturing activity and rapidly increased production. As a result, daily production increased another five percent.”
According to Justin Kringstad, director of the state Pipeline Authority, good weather provides favorable road conditions for moving product. In addition, equipment and employees both perform more smoothly.
“I know I work better when it’s only 20 degrees out, versus negative 20,” Kringstad states.
Kringstad also makes the point that because infrastructure pipeline has and is being added, more product can be transported with less impact to North Dakota highways, creating less impact and highway congestion, and essentially contributing to this year’s more efficient production conditions.
These incredible numbers do confirm a growing McKenzie County economy, and an increasingly strained McKenzie County infrastructure. However, they also serve McKenzie County government officials who are trying to prove to the state that the area is being increasingly impacted by the oil and gas industry, and therefore, needs help.