Posted 5/23/12 (Wed)
By Lauren Billing
Farmer Staff Writer
January marked a monumental step for North Dakota’s oil and gas industry as the state overtook California as the No. 3 oil-producing state in the country. The excitement of being No. 3 has been overshadowed however, because March’s numbers show North Dakota has passed Alaska and now holds the No. 2 spot.
“Today, congratulations are in order on news that North Dakota, in March, became the second-leading oil producing state in America, surpassing Alaska a year before experts predicted we would,” says Sen. John Hoeven. “At nearly 600,000 barrels of oil a day, our production is now second only to Texas.”
Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroluem Council, sees the jump as surprising, but also as an indication of both states’ industry climates.
“North Dakota’s rig count has stayed flat since last fall. The producers are becoming more efficient as we move from the exploration phase to development phase,” explains Ness. “At the same time, Alaska’s production is sliding fast and it’s a sign of the impact of limiting access to federal lands and Alaska’s unfriendly business climate.”
While reaching the No. 1 spot is much farther from the state’s grasp, many believe North Dakota will command the No. 2 spot for years to come.
“This is a significant step for our state,” says Ness. “It further positions North Dakota as a leading energy producing state and should help secure the need for more of the oil revenues to be utilized to address the challenges facing western North Dakota to deal with the challenges that accompany growth and prosperity for our state.”
One of the major steps in meeting those challenges is getting federal approval for the Keystone XL Pipeline, according to Sen. Hoeven.
“North Dakota is waiting to put more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day into the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would take up to 500 trucks a day off the roads of western North Dakota,” says Sen. Hoeven. “That will reduce wear and tear on our highways, but more importantly, it will make them safer and more drivable for the people who live and work in the area.”
Seeing the construction of something like the Keystone XL Pipeline will not only help improve infrastructure in North Dakota, it will give the country more independence from foreign oil and has the potential to create economic opportunity for thousands of Americans.
“America needs this energy. America needs these jobs. America needs the Keystone XL Pipeline,” says Sen. Hoeven.
Regardless of whether or not legislators in Washington decide to move forward with the Keystone XL Pipeline, North Dakota should continue for many years to produce oil in barrels second only to Texas.