Oil and natural gas production in North Dakota, home to the Bakken Shale, declined slightly in July from June, even as the rig count inched higher.

north dakota production

Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) director Lynn Helms issued the monthly Director’s Cut on Friday, which provides information about all of the wells capable of producing, as well as permit activity.

According to DMR, natural gas production in July, which had 31 days, averaged 2.87 Bcf/d. During June, with 30 days of output, gas production had averaged 2.99 Bcf/d. 

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Oil production also fell month/month, even as prices were higher. 

During July, oil output averaged nearly 1.08 million b/d, versus 1.13 million b/d in June. 

June production also was down from May. Gas production in May had averaged 2.98 Bcf/d, while crude output averaged 1.29 million b/d.

The decline in oil production during July came even as North Dakota Light Sweet averaged $64.80/bbl, versus $63.62 in June.
Meanwhile, the natural gas capture rate declined during July. North Dakota has set a gas capture goal to keep flaring/venting at 8% of production or less.

During July, the gas capture rate was 90%, or around 2.58 Bcf/d. In June, the rate stood at 92%, with 2.75 Bcf/d captured, according to DMR.

Helms noted that the state’s drilling rig count took a sharp hit starting in January 2020, falling by 59% through last July as Covid-19 pressured demand. 

The state’s oil and gas activity now is “slowly increasing,” he said.

The rig count in July averaged 23, up three from June. As of Friday, North Dakota’s rig count stood at 27, which was down by one from August.

The “number of well completions has been low and volatile since April 2020,” Helms said. The number of active completion crews declined “from 25 to one, then increased to six in July and to 12” as of Friday. 

Based on a preliminary estimate, 16,881 wells were producing in July, up from what had been an all-time state high of 16,844 in June. Forty-seven wells also were completed in July, up six month/month. For August, DMR indicated the preliminary completion rate was 53.

Permits issued to drill fell in July by almost half month/month to 40 from 75, Helms noted. In August, the state issued 79 permits to drill.