North Dakota Oil Production Surpasses OPEC Nation Ecuador

Published March 9, 2012

Oil production in North Dakota has surged to more than a half million barrels of oil per day, with the oil production in the Peace Garden State now surpassing that of OPEC member Ecuador. North Dakota’s 6,300 wells now produce enough oil to displace U.S. imports from foreign suppliers such as Iraq and Colombia, according to the state’s Oil and Gas Division. 

Private Lands Key to Production

North Dakota oil production is booming for several reasons. Geologists recently discovered vast oil reserves in the Bakken Shale formation that lies under much of the state. At the same time, technological advances have recently made oil production from shale formations economically worthwhile. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, most of the Bakken Shale formation lies under privately owned land, whereas most other oil and natural gas reserves in Western states are under federal lands where resource production is forbidden or severely restricted.

Production Keeps Rising

“North Dakota is now producing more than half a million barrels of oil per day, at approximately 510,000 barrels,” the state’s Oil and Gas Division reported in a Jan. 10 press statement. “That’s an increase of about 22,000 barrels from October and an increase of more than 150,000 barrels a day from one year ago.”

“Oil production in the state has increased anywhere from 8,000 to 40,000 barrels a day, every month since June,” Oil and Gas Division Director Lynn Helms said in the press statement.

State Fears Federal Intervention

Despite the good news about oil production, state officials fear the federal government will soon seek to restrict production via newly asserted regulatory powers over the hydraulic fracturing production process. State officials vow to vigorously defend their rights in relation to the federal government.

“We continue to affirm our position that the state is in the best position to regulate hydraulic fracturing,” said Helms in a separate press statement on Nov. 28. “While some reports try to frame this issue as EPA regulation versus no regulation, the state of North Dakota has been regulating hydraulic fracturing and is in the process of promulgating new rules to continue to strengthen the sound regulatory oversight.”

“North Dakota has already demonstrated that the Oil and Gas Division of the Department of Mineral Resources is best situated to closely monitor oil and gas drilling and fracturing operations to ensure they are conducted in an environmentally sound manner. The state is fully prepared to assert and defend its regulatory rights to do so,” the Oil and Gas Division emphasized in the Nov. 28 statement.

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.