North Dakota’s oil and gas production hit record highs in December, capping the state’s strongest year ever for petroleum output.
The nation’s second-largest oil-producing state after Texas, North Dakota pumped out 1.4 million barrels of oil per day in December, up 1.8 percent over the previous month. December marked the first month that the state’s oil production crossed the 1.4 million barrel-per-day threshold.
“What a great way to end the year,” Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, said in a conference call with reporters Friday.
The state’s natural gas production also set a new monthly record in December at 2.65 million MCF per day, up 5.1 percent over the previous month. (An MCF is 1,000 cubic feet of gas.)
Gas production increases should continue outstripping oil output gains this year, Helms said. “That will be our challenge through 2019, to bring on gas-gathering capacity that will keep up with production.”
With the oil and gas business booming throughout the country, the ability to capture all natural gas being produced is falling short in several regions, including North Dakota.
The result: Flaring has increased. Gas that is not captured by producers is burned, which is wasteful and damaging to the environment
North Dakota producers exceeded the state’s gas-flaring targets throughout the second half of 2018.
Currently, no more than 12 percent of natural gas production should be burned off, while 88 percent should be captured and processed.
In December, 19 percent was being flared, a slight improvement over November.
Gas-processing capacity in North Dakota isn’t expected to catch up with gas output until late 2019, according to Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority.