North Dakota is cementing its reputation as “U.S. OPEC,” with a record number of oil rigs now operating in the state.
Government records show 214 oil rigs now operating in the state, with 95 percent of the rigs producing oil from the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations in the western part of the state.
Fortunately for the North Dakota economy, the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations lie primarily beneath private property. Most oil and natural gas deposits west of the Mississippi River lie beneath federal lands. The federal government has rendered the vast majority of the oil and natural gas resources on federal lands off-limits for production, and the Obama administration has made the situation worse, taking still more lands out of production and imposing new restrictions on the few lands that are available for production.
The North Dakota unemployment rate is currently 3.0 percent, with the strikingly low number due primarily to oil and natural gas production. Oil production in North Dakota currently exceeds that of OPEC nation Ecuador.
The Obama EPA has launched an investigation of hydraulic fracturing, the process that enables the production of oil from the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations, as an alleged threat to environmental health. EPA could potentially shut down Bakken and Three Forks oil production, even though oil recovery is occurring on private lands.