North Dakota in November posted its largest monthly oil production increase in well over a year, buoyed by high petroleum prices.
One of the nation's largest oil producers, North Dakota pumped 1.16 million barrels of crude per day in November, up 4.4 % from October, according to state data released Friday.
"This is really the month we have been waiting for all year," Lynn Helms, North Dakota's mineral resources director, told reporters in a conference call. November oil production was the highest in North Dakota since December 2020.
The state also hit an all-time record in November for the number of producing oil wells — 17,238.
As for natural gas, North Dakota's output in November tallied 3.07 million MCF, up 2.4 % over October. An MCF is 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas.
Oil prices last year rose into territory not seen since 2014, crossing $80 a barrel in November. West Texas Intermediate — the benchmark U.S. crude price — fell back into the high $60s and $70 per barrel range in December but has rebounded, sitting at $83 Friday.
"Oil prices are very, very strong," Helms said. Indeed, the price of North Dakota Light Sweet crude, which trades at a discount to WTI, was 47 % above the November forecast for North Dakota's state budget.
"State and local revenues were very strong in November," Helms said.
While Helms said he expects North Dakota's December oil production to be relatively robust, the outlook is weak for the rest of the winter.
Particularly cold weather starting in late December led to "freeze offs" of natural gas gathering equipment, he said. "Gas production really hasn't recovered from that."
When oilfield operators decrease gas production, oil output often goes down in tandem.
"January could be pretty tough month," Helms said.
North Dakota's drill rig count — a harbinger of future oil production — currently stands at 32, down one rig from November but up four from October.