North Dakota production set new records in 2017 even though the rig count has gone down. At least 1.18 million BOPD was produced in October and November. North Dakota gas production hit new highs in November as well – over two million Mcf/day.

Keep the oil barrels rolling

  • Oil production in October reached 36,698,095 barrels in total, or 1,183,810 BOPD
  • For November, the preliminary numbers show 35,847,594 total barrels, or 1,194,920 BOPD
  • For reference, the all-time high was December 2014, at 1,227,483 BOPD

November gas production hit a new record

  • October saw 64,027,664 Mcf, or 2,065,409 Mcf/day
  • November gas production hit a new all-time high, reaching 62,860,261 Mcf, or 2,095,342 Mcf/day


  • October saw 147 drilling and two seismic permits
  • November saw 119 drilling permits
  • December had 86 drilling permits and 2 seismic permits, for reference, the all-time high was 370 drilling permits in October 2012

Rig count

  • October had 56 rigs
  • November had 54 rigs
  • December saw 52 rigs

For reference, the all-time high was 218 rigs on May 29, 2012.

The statewide rig count is down 74% from previous highs and in the five most active counties, rig count is down as follows:

  • Divide – down 100% (from the high in March 2013)
  • Dunn – down 82% (high was June 2012)
  • McKenzie – down 64% (high was January 2014)
  • Mountrail – down 83% (high was June 2011)
  • Williams – down 73% (high was October 2014)

The ND Oil and Gas Division provides commentary

Operators have shifted from running the minimum number of rigs to incremental increases and decreases as WTI oil price moves between $45 and $60/barrel, the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division said.

If WTI drops below $45/barrel for more than 30 days, rig count is expected to drop. If WTI remains above $55/barrel for more than 90 days, rig count is expected to rise. Current operator plans are to add five to ten rigs in the second and third quarters of 2018, depending on workforce and infrastructure constraints, the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division said.

Oil prices associated with crude oil inventories that remain above average in addition to competition with the Permian and Anadarko shale oil plays continue to limit drilling rig count in North Dakota. Utilization rate for rigs capable of 20,000+ feet is 40%-50% and for shallow well rigs (7,000 feet or less) 25%-30%.

Drilling permit activity decreased from October to November, then decreased again from November to December. Operators continue to maintain a permit inventory that will accommodate variable price points for the next 12 months, the NDIC said.

  • Over 99% of drilling now targets the Bakken and Three Forks formations
  • Estimated wells waiting on completion is 883, down six from the end of October to the end of November
  • Estimated inactive well count is 1,492, up 21 from the end of October to the end of November
  • Crude oil take away capacity, including rail deliveries to coastal refineries, is more than adequate

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