North Dakota posted record oil and gas production in June, though flaring of natural gas — a wasteful, environmentally insensitive practice — spiked during the month.

North Dakota, the nation's second-largest oil-producing state, churned out 1.42 million barrels of oil per day, a rise of 2% over May, according to data released Thursday by the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources.

The state's natural gas output in June stood at 2.88 million MCF per day, also up 2% over May. An MCF is 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas.

The drilling-rig count currently stands at 61, up from 57 in July, though below May's mark of 65. A rising rig count is an indicator of more new wells being drilled.

North Dakota's petroleum industry hit high-output marks even though oil prices were generally lower in June than in May.

West Texas Intermediate — the benchmark price for U.S. crude — averaged close to $61 per barrel in May compared with $55 in June. On Thursday, WTI was trading just below $55 per barrel.

North Dakota's gas-capture rate fell to 76% in June — meaning 24% of natural gas production was flared — one of the worst monthly figures in years. For the past six months, North Dakota's gas-capture rate has hovered between 80% and 81%.

Flaring — or burning natural gas — is a waste of an economic asset, and it releases carbon dioxide into the air. The state's ability to capture and process natural gas has not kept up with rising gas production.

North Dakota has been well below its gas-capture goals — currently 88% — for many months.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003