Posted 8/26/09 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
With a resurgence in drilling for oil in North Dakota on the heels of the discovery of the Bakken and Three Forks formations in western North Dakota, since 2004, North Dakota’s crude oil production has grown an average of 16.9 percent per year.
While the majority of the drilling interest in new Bakken formation has been centered in Mountrail County, McKenzie County has seen a big jump in drilling activity as well.
According to recent data from the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division, McKenzie County’s oil production rose to 821,705 barrels in May of 2009, the largest production since August of 1991 when county wells produced 838,776 barrels of oil. McKenzie County’s record high production of oil of 1,404,556 barrels occurred during the month of April of 1985.
Statewide, crude oil production in North Dakota rose to nearly 63 million barrels in 2008, an increase of 39.3 percent from 2007. This was the largest production level and percentage gain in the state’s history.
North Dakota’s oil production, according to this month’s “Economic Brief,” a monthly publication from the North Dakota State Data Center at North Dakota State University, increased sharply in the late 1970s and peaked in 1984 at just less than 53 million barrels. Production declined through the late 1980s and early 1990s. After a small rise in the mid-1990s, production slowed again. Production dropped to 29.4 million barrels by 2003. Since 2004, crude oil production in North Dakota has grown an average of 16.9 percent per year.
Total crude oil production in the United States (1.8 billion barrels of oil in 2008) has declined every year since 1985, except for a slight growth in production in 1991. From 1985 to 2008, nationwide crude oil production decreased an average of 2.5 percent per year.
“The gains in our state’s oil production are in sharp contrast to the national trend,” says Richard Rathge, State Data Center director. “During the past 10 years, all of the leading oil-producing states and off-shore sites have dramatically reduced production, including Alaska (minus 42 percent), California (minus 24 percent) and Texas (minus 21 percent). In contrast, North Dakota’s production from 1998 to 2008 was up 77 percent.”
In 2008, North Dakota ranked seventh in crude oil production out of 31 oil-producing states and two federal offshore areas. In 2008, North Dakota produced an average of 171,989 barrels of oil per day, which was 3.5 percent of the nation’s total oil production.
Sixteen of North Dakota’s 53 counties produced oil in 2008. Bowman County was North Dakota’s largest crude oil producer in 2008 (16.4 million barrels), followed by Mountrail County (15.9 million barrels), McKenzie County (7.6 million barrels), Dunn County (5.6 million barrels), Williams County (5.1 million barrels), Billings County (4.4 million barrels), Bottineau County (2 million barrels), Stark County (1.4 million barrels), Burke County (1.2 million barrels), and Divide County (1 million barrels).
An additional six counties produced the remaining 2 million barrels of the state’s overall crude oil in 2008.