North Dakota oil production surged 5% in October, hitting a new record and topping the 1.5 million barrel-per-day mark for the first time.

Natural gas production in North Dakota also rose handily in October, setting a record.

"In summary, it should be a very happy holiday for the state of North Dakota," Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, said in a web conference with reporters.

North Dakota, the largest oil-producing state after Texas, pumped out 1.52 million barrels of crude per day in October, up from 1.44 million in September. Gas production in October was 2.52 million MCF per day, a nearly 4% increase over September. (An MCF is 1,000 cubic feet of gas.)

The burning of excess natural gas — called flaring — in October was proportionally the same as in September, but it was still well above state targets. When natural gas is flared, resources are wasted and carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere.

In September, North Dakota operators captured 82% of natural gas, flaring the remaining 18%. North Dakota's gas capture goal is 88%, or 12% flaring. The state's ability to process gas has not kept up with rising production.

But Helms said gas capture should improve significantly — and flaring should decline — starting in December with the recent completion of a natural gas liquids pipeline.

Some North Dakota gas processing plants will now be able to operate at full capacity thanks to the new pipeline, he said. The pipeline, operated by Oklahoma-based ONEOK, runs from Sidney, Mont., near the North Dakota border to central Kansas.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003