Natural gas production reached an all-time high in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota during March, according to the latest statistics by the state Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).
With weather-related road restrictions now inactive, the prospect for more records and steady production increases as more drilling and completions crews are deployed, according to DMR Director Lynn Helms.
"I anticipate that when we see the April numbers, we'll be back to setting records for oil production too," Helms said during a monthly webinar. Activity overall is moving ahead "at a rapid pace.”
Gas production in March climbed 6.5% month/month to 86.8 Bcf (2.80 Bcf/d), while oil production was up 4% to 43 million bbl (1.39 million b/d). The previous record was set in December 2018, when operators produced 82.1 Bcf (2.65 Bcf/d).
"It was a pretty rapid increase in natural gas production," Helms said. However, low prices challenged ongoing gas capture efforts. "It was a pretty rapid increase in natural gas production," Helms said. However, low prices challenged ongoing gas capture efforts. About 20% of the gas produced in March was flared.
Bakken sweet crude prices have remained steady. On Wednesday, Bakken oil fetched $50.50/bbl, compared to $61.78/bbl for West Texas Intermediate.
"I don't think anyone really knows what is going to happen to oil prices, except that they are likely going higher, which will drive activity and production up," said Helms. The Bakken rig count, now at 65, also is expected to increase.
In contrast, "natural gas prices continue to decouple from crude oil, and the prices are very weak," he said. "Until we see a summer demand for gas, gas prices will be very weak," as they are across the Lower 48.