North Dakota summer oil production slumps

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Posted at 10:14 AM, Sep 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-18 12:14:17-04

North Dakota witnessed a 5 percent drop in its oil and gas production this past July, the result of a series of outages at five natural gas plants in the state.

Natural gas processing plants at Bear Creek, Lonesome Creek, Robinson Lake, Tioga, and Watford City were offline during various times in July, due to scheduled maintenance and upgrade projects.

North Dakota Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said the outages resulted in a 5 percent drop in the state's oil production, and a 4 percent decline in natural gas production from June to July.

The slump in production surprised state officials, who had expected oil production to bounce back from what, so far, has been a sluggish 2021.

Helms said the slump came in spite of healthy oil prices and an improving employment picture in the Bakken.

In July, North Dakota produced 1,077,789 barrels per day, compared to 1,133,498 barrels per day in June. The state's record-high production occurred in November of 2019 with 1,519,037 barrels per day.

On the upside, Helms said the job scene across the oil patch is on the upswing.

At the peak of the pandemic, unemployment across the Williston Basin was running 12 to 15 percent. This past June, Helms said oil sector unemployment improved to 7 percent, and today it's improved even more to just 5 percent.

Friday's crude oil prices ranged from West Texas Intermediate's (WTI) $72.61/barrel, while the North Dakota market estimate was $69.06/barrel.

North Dakota's all-time high oil price was set in June of 2008, when North Dakota Sweet Crude was selling at $125.62/barrel.

North Dakota 2021 Oil Production

June 2021: 1,133,498 barrels/day

July 2021 : 1,077,789 barrels/day - 55,709 barrels/day

Oil & Gas Sector Unemployment / Williston Basin

May - August 2020 12 - 15 percent unemployment

June 2021 7 percent unemployment

Sept 2021 5 percent unemployment

Source: North Dakota Department Mineral Resources