Latest update on N.D. oil gas production: The Director's Cut

By  | 

BISMARCK, N.D. - After a significant drop in oil and gas production last December, the Department of Mineral Resources says production increased in January.

Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms expects production to drop slightly in the coming months, but believes by fourth quarter, it should start to increase.

Helms says the latest data and numbers on activity in the Bakken indicates a turnaround is expected by this summer.

After the largest drop in Bakken activity last December, oil production increased by 38,000 barrels per day and gas production increased by 1.2 percent. But, experts predict a slight decline in the coming months.

"In the near term, until we get some additional rigs in the area, some more wells being completed, we may see over the next several months some steady to potentially a few more months of decreasing production," said Justin Kringstad, North Dakota Pipeline Authority.

Kringstad says long term, they expect to see significant growth in the Bakken for crude oil and natural gas. Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms says there's still many wells waiting for completion.

"Still have over 800 wells waiting on completion so that duck inventory or drilled uncompleted inventory is still very high and that's what's really going to feed production as we move into the middle third quarter fourth quarter of this year," said Helms.

With the forecast of more oil and natural gas long-term, Kringstad predicts there will be a need for additional infrastructure, more pipelines and more processing plants. Helms says some operators are already talking about adding rigs.

"The expectation just a few months ago as we started the legislative session was that we would go 30 rigs, 50 rigs, 55 rigs, for fiscal 17, 18, 19. The forecast now is built on 40, 50 and 55 so we have seen a significant uptick," said Helms.

As far as getting the Bakken back to producing a million barrels a day, Helms said that could happen in late 2018.

January's increases in production are due largely to milder weather at the end of the month.