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Challenge accepted: Alaska gov. jokes about oil production competition at Vancouver, British Columbia,


Alaska's governor said North Dakota shouldn't get used to being No. 2 in oil production, but North Dakota officials said Friday The Last Frontier state will have to boost its output to catch up.

Gov. Sean Parnell joked during a speech for the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission midyear meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, that he was enjoying dinner at the three-day meeting June 3-5 when a man from North Dakota started a conversation about the two state's oil output.

"This particular gentleman, who will remain nameless, Ron, came over to offer his condolences," Parnell said. "In my mind, I'm thinking I'm not here to collect the bronze medal. I want the silver then the gold for Alaska."

Alaska gave up its No. 2 position to North Dakota in March. North Dakota has set record numbers almost every month since January 2010, according to the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division.

More than 200 state regulators and industry officials from Canada and the U.S. laughed at his comments at the IOGCC session. Parnell congratulated North Dakota for being No. 2. but said Alaska was working hard to regain its former glory and title.

North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness told The Dickinson Press on Friday that he was at the convention and said the governor was probably referring to him. Ness and other North Dakota representatives had a great discussion with Parnell about the Bakken Formation and North Dakota surpassing Alaska.

Alaska's oil production has decreased since the late 1980s, said Kyle Smith, a legislative and policy advisor for the state's Division of Oil and Gas. It produced 18.21 million barrels in April, just short of North Dakota's 18.28 million in the same month.

"We've always said the reason we were able to catch states like California and Alaska was because their production was declining and ours was increasing, so we kind of just met in the middle," said Alison Ritter, the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division public information specialist in Bismarck.

Alaska pulls the majority of its oil from several the Prudhoe Bay and North Slope formations, Smith said.

He and Ritter couldn't speculate on the two states' output, but Alaska could regain its position if it increases production.

"It takes just one big discovery," Smith said.

Parnell has presented "Stem the Decline," a plan to increase mining through lower taxes for oil companies.

A little friendly competition between states never hurt anybody, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple told The Press.

"Production rankings are not the goal," he said. "Our goal is to improve the state's productivity over time and to help the nation reduce its dependency on foreign oil."