Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Huge Oil Boom in North Dakota

Although North Dakota was the ninth largest oil producing state six years ago, it is now in second place, edging Alaska and exceeded only by oil production in Texas. James MacPherson of the Associated Press notes that March oil production in Alaska was 17.5 million barrels, just behind the 17.9 million produced in North Dakota that month. Improved horizontal drilling techniques in the Bakken shale and Three Forks formations in the western part of North Dakota account for the increased production.

With this boom, North Dakota is growing in population to a record level, and its unemployment rate is the lowest in the nation.

Records show that Texas, North Dakota, Alaska and California, in that order, produced 45.7 percent of U.S. oil production in February.  North Dakota produces about nine percent of U.S. oil. It would need to nearly double production to reach the level produced in Texas.

North Dakota is also producing natural gas at a record rate of 620.8 million cubic feet in March, but a third of it is burned off ("flared") since there are insufficient p;ipelines and collecting systems to move it to market. This compares to less than one percent of natural gas being flared from oil fields overall in the U.S., according to the Energy Information Administration, located in Washington, D.C. Significant infrastructure improvements are planned in North Dakota to process natural gas and move it to market.

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