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Posted 7/28/10 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

While the United States’ economy still continues to struggle with high unemployment and sluggish sales, North Dakota’s economy is humming right along with millions of dollars pouring into the state’s coffers and an unemployment rate among the lowest in the nation.
For those of us living in western North Dakota, we know the answer to why the state is flush with cash and good jobs. It’s the oil and gas industry that is pumping up the state’s economy. And the good news on how the state’s oil and gas industry is continuing to grow. And that means that even more money is going to be flowing into the state’s coffers and the overall economy.
How big is the oil and gas industry in North Dakota?
It’s huge! Here are some of the facts about the state’s oil industry, that I gleaned from a recent publication by the North Dakota State Data Center at North Dakota State University.
• Crude oil production in North Dakota has risen to nearly 80 million barrels in 2009, an increase of 27 percent from 2008. This is the largest gain among the 31 oil-producing states.
• The state’s last oil boom occurred in the late 1970s and peaked in 1984 at just less than 53 million barrels. Production then declined throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s before making a small jump in the mid-1990s before production slowly tapped off to where only 29 million barrels were being produced by 2003.
• Since 2004, however, crude oil production in North Dakota has grown an average of 21.1 percent per year reaching 79.7 million barrels in 2009, which surpassed the previous peak in 2008.
• In 2009, North Dakota ranked fifth in crude oil production out of the 31 oil-producing states and two federal offshore areas.
• North Dakota produced an average of more than 218,000 barrels of oil per day in 2009, which was 4.1 percent of the nation’s total production. The nation’s four largest oil producers in 2009 were the federal offshore area in the Gulf of Mexico (562 million barrels), Texas (394 million barrels), Alaska (235 million barrels) and California (207 million barrels).
• Total crude oil production in the U.S. (1.9 billion barrels of oil in 2009) declined each year from 1985 to 2008, except for a slight growth in 1991. From 2008 to 2009, nationwide crude oil production rose seven percent.
• Seventeen of North Dakota’s 53 counties produced oil in 2009. Mountrail County was North Dakota’s largest crude oil producer in 2009 (29.7 million barrels), followed by Bowman (13.3 million barrels), McKenzie (10.1 million barrels), Dunn (8.9 million barrels), Williams (5.6 million barrels), Billings (3.9 million barrels) and Bottineau (1.9 million barrels). An additional 10 counties produced the remaining 6.2 million barrels of the state’s overall crude oil in 2009.
And the good news, according to the State Data Center, is that it looks like the state’s oil production in 2010 will exceed 2009 since data from March shows an increase of 14.6 percent from December 2009.