Bakken oil reached another all-time high in October but heavy rains in the month likely stifled production to an increase of only 1 percent.
Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, said he still expects the play to hit a million barrels a day in early 2014.
An increase in producing wells to a new all-time high of 9,900 certainly points in favor of that projection—if the weather continues to cooperate is another matter.
“All McKenzie County roads were shut down for three to four days due to rain,” Helms said in his annual report. “McKenzie County has one-third of the drilling rigs and 29 percent of state production. This means production likely would have been 10,000 to 15,000 barrels per day higher without that weather event.”
Rig count in North Dakota has remained steady near the 180 mark, posting 183 in October and 184 in November. Helms said operators still have plans to add another 10-15 rigs by mid-2014, which crack the 200 rig mark again.
He noted it is already beginning to increase at a slow pace. Saturday’s active rig count on the DMR website was 191.
The number of rigs on federal lands in the Dakota Prairie Grasslands remained at zero.
On Fort Berthold, 20 rigs were listed with 1,076 active wells producing 309,707 barrels a day. Helms said the number of potential future wells sat at 2,314 on the reservation.
“Drilling permit activity was down in October and November as operators being winter operations,” he said. “The goal is to maintain a sufficient permit inventory to accommodate multi-well pads through the end of load restrictions in 2014 as well as the time required to deal with federal hydraulic fracturing rules if required.”
There was good news all around for natural gas in October.
A new record of 1,070,270 million cubic feet a day was recorded while gas flaring was reduced a percent to 28 percent.
The oil to gas price ratio remains 19:1 but the price of natural gas delivered to Northern Border at Watford City went up 60 cents to $3.67 per million cubic feet. While small, the outlook for the price of natural gas is better than it has been in recent months.
“U.S. natural gas storage is now 3 percent below the five-year average indicating gradually increasing prices in the foreseeable future,” Helms said. “North Dakota shallow gas exploration my be economic at future gas prices.”