North Dakota passed another oil production milestone in November, averaging more than a half-million b/d, according to preliminary data released Tuesday by the state Industrial Commission.

The early figures point to a daily average of 510,000 b/d in November, said Lynn Helms, director of the state oil/gas division. That represents an increase of 22,000 b/d from October, and more than 150,000 b/d compared with a year earlier, Helms said. The latest figures follow reports late last year from mid-October showing the state was on track to exceed last year's record-setting oil and gas production (see Shale Daily, Nov. 30, 2011).

Late last year North Dakota continued to report all-time records for oil and gas production based on the most recent statistics available as of the end of October, according to reports from Helms and the state Department of Mineral Resources (DMR). Helms has continued to maintain that the oil/gas industry plans to invest more than $3 billion in the state from 2011 through 2013 (see Shale Daily, Dec. 28, 2011).

"Oil production in the state has increased anywhere from 8,000 to 40,000 b/d every month since June," said Helms, adding that recent data from California indicated the nation's third biggest oil producing state is currently producing about 570,000 b/d.

For November, North Dakota had 6,332 of 7,097 capable wells producing with a preliminary total of 15.29 million bbl for the month. By contrast, the same figures in October were 6,210 producing wells totaling 15.1 million bbl. For natural gas, November production hit 15.6 Bcf, down slightly from the 15.7 Bcf figure in October.

Helms called the oil statistics "big news" for both the state and the nation. "A half million b/d represents about 10% of the current U.S. production," he said. "This is enough oil to displace import from Iraq or Colombia."