ND pumps record 313.5M barrels of oil in 2013

North Dakota pumps record 313.5M barrels of oil in 2013; tops previous high by 70M barrels

Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- North Dakota produced a record amount of crude oil in 2013 — 313.5 million barrels, about 70 million more than the previous high mark a year earlier, state data show.

The tally, up nearly 29 percent from 2012, marks the sixth consecutive record year for oil production in North Dakota, which is the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas.

Lynn Helms, director of the state Mineral Resources, said Friday that North Dakota produced an average of 923,227 barrels of oil daily in December. The monthly total of 28.6 million barrels was down from 29.2 million barrels in November due to worse-than-normal winter weather that caused the slowdown in oil production, he said.

"The big story in December was the weather," he said.

Helms said it was the first time since January 2013 that the state did not set a monthly oil production record. December production figures were the latest available, because oil production numbers typically lag at least two months.

Tessa Sandstrom, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Petroleum Council, called the state's surging oil production good news.

"Oil and gas production continue to have a positive impact on the economy and jobs," said Sandstron, whose group represents hundreds of companies working in the state's oil patch. "There are impacts and we look forward to addressing those in the coming year."

The state's natural gas production in December was 30.7 million cubic feet, down from a record 32.5 million cubic feet in November.

Data show 36 percent of natural gas produced in the state was burned off, or flared, in December, up about 6 percent from November, which Helms said was largely due to a temporary shutdown of a natural gas processing plant in Tioga.

The amount of natural gas flared in December matched a record set in September 2011, records show. The U.S. Energy Department says less than 1 percent of natural gas is flared from oil fields nationwide, and less than 3 percent worldwide.

North Dakota sweet crude was fetching $81.35 a barrel Friday, up from $74.20 in January and $73.47 in December.

Data show 185 rigs drilling in North Dakota's oil patch Friday, double the amount for the same day four years ago.

Helms said North Dakota continues to be on track to surpass 1 million barrels of oil daily this year. More than 95 percent of drilling in the state is being done in the rich Bakken and Three Forks formations in western North Dakota, Helms said.

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