By Dan Murtaugh
North Dakota, which yesterday became just the fourth state to record oil production above 1 million barrels a day, could see even stronger growth over the summer as improved weather makes life easier for drilling crews.
Output increased to 1,001,149 barrels a day in April, the state’s Department of Mineral Resources reported yesterday. Texas, California and Alaska have crossed the million-barrel mark. Only Texas remains above the state, at almost 3 million barrels a day.
April oilfield work was hampered by heavy rain that shut roads and strong winds that closed down operations. Crews completed 200 wells during the month, and another 600 are already drilled and just waiting on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Better weather in the summer months should allow more new wells to start gushing oil.
“As the weather improves, operators should have full utilization of all their rigs, and possibly additional completion crews to whittle down the backlog,” Jonathan Garrett, an upstream analyst at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. in Houston, said in a phone interview today. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see quite a bit of production growth over the summer. It should be pretty impressive.”
Oil and gas from the Bakken and other shale formations helped the U.S. produce the equivalent of 87 percent of its energy needs in 2013, the highest level since 1985, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. The U.S. imported 7.7 million barrels of crude a day in 2013, the least since 1996.