North Dakota's oil production in January was flat, but natural gas output jumped to a record high.
The nation's second-largest oil producing state after Texas, North Dakota in January churned out 1.4 million barrels per day, down 339 barrels per day over December's record output, according to data released Friday by the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources.
The state's natural gas production in January was 2.72 million MCF per day, up 2.5 percent over December. (An MCF is 1,000 cubic feet of gas.)
The oil numbers were expected, and Lynn Helms, North Dakota's mineral resources director, said in a conference call Friday that January was a "strong start" to 2019.
"Surprisingly, gas production was up significantly," he said.
Oil prices are on the upswing after tanking in the fourth quarter. West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the benchmark U.S. crude oil price, hit a nearly four-year high of $76 in October and then sank below $50 a barrel for a time in December and early January.
But WTI is around $58 per barrel now. Plus, the spread between WTI and the price of North Dakota light sweet crude oil has narrowed significantly in the past two months, a plus for the state's producers.
The number of oil rigs in North Dakota currently stands at 65, up from an average of 64 last month, but down from 67 in December. A rising rig count indicates operators are drilling more new wells.
"We anticipate small, incremental rig additions as the year goes on," Helms said.