Each and every barrel of oil taken from the North Dakota ground takes a certain amount of energy to produce, process and transport. That means there is a correlation between projected oil and gas production rates and future electrical consumption — even if it’s a quite complex mixture dependent on which well the oil came from.

The North Dakota Transmission Authority is using the state’s projected production and population statistics to outline future energy needs for the Oil Patch, through a study it commissioned with Barr Engineering Company.

The study’s results were presented last week during the North Dakota Industrial Commission meeting. It estimates that electric consumption in the Oil Patch is set to increase by at least 44 percent for the low scenario of production estimates from the North Dakota Petroleum Authority or, in the higher case, consensus scenario, by 77.1 percent over the next two decades.

That translates to 15,000 gigawatt hours for the low scenario or 18,000 gigawatt hours for the higher, consensus projection. Compared to the 2018 baseline, that’s an increase of between 4,600 to 7500 gigawatt hours and will imply an increase in generation capacity of 670 to 1,000 megawatts over and above the state’s existing 4390 megawatts.

The study broke the oil industry’s power needs into three broad categories, one for production, one for population growth, and one for large industrial/commercial facilities like gas processing facilities and crude oil transmission pumps.

By the numbers:

• 4,300 additional gigawatt hours for oil and gas production in the low case, 5400 in the higher, consensus case.

• 5,300 gigawatt hours for large industrial in the low case, and 6,300 high case.

• 5,600 gigawatt hours for increased population int he low case, 6,300 in the high case.

The highest annual growth rate is expected to happen in the first eight years of the study period, from 2019 to 2025. In that timeframe, power demands are estimated to grow between 2.5 to 3 percent annually for the state’s low production scenario, and between 3.6 to 7.7 percent annually for the consensus scenario.

The study further breaks down the power needs by county.

By the numbers for Williams County:

• 886,000 to 1,128,000 MWh hours for oil and gas production by 2038, low to higher case, consensus

• 1,670,000 to 2,108,000 MWh for large industrial/commercial

• 929,000 to 1,162,000 MWh for additional population

By the numbers for McKenzie County

• 1,492,000 to 1,821,000 MWh for oil and gas production by 2038

• 2,541,000 to 3,033,000 MWh for large industrial/commercial

• 435,000 to 522,000 MWh for additional population


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