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North Dakota oil output sets record again

GRAND FORKS -- North Dakota keeps setting records in crude oil and natural gas production, according to the state's Department of Mineral Resources.

According to the latest figures released Tuesday, in April there were 18.3 million barrels of crude oil pumped out of 7,025 wells. Daily production averaged 609,373 barrels.

That's up from 17.9 million barrels out of 6,932 wells in March, the first time North Dakota surpassed Alaska in crude oil production to take the No. 2 slot among the states. Texas is No. 1.

Natural gas production, a by-product of drilling for oil in North Dakota, also set a record in April, totaling 19.5 million MCF, or thousand-cubic-feet. About a third of the natural gas produced is flared off, or burned on the drilling sites, because of low prices and lack of infrastructure to move the gas to market, according to state regulators.

In April, Alaska averaged 552,384 barrels a day, down 15,000 barrels a day from March, according to Alaska's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

California has averaged around 435,000 to 440,000 barrels a day for several months.

Texas averaged 1.75 million barrels a day in March, continuing several months of increases, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

North Dakota's April production amounts to 9.7 percent of total U.S. crude oil production in March -- the latest EIA figures available -- of 6.25 million barrels a day on average.

The state has seen crude production more than quadruple since April 2008, as the Oil Patch began to blossom.

The price for North Dakota sweet crude was pegged Tuesday at $73.25 per barrel, according to Flint Resources, one of the companies that posts prices. That was $6.50 below Flint Resource's posted price for the U.S. benchmark West Texas crude Tuesday.

In April, Flint Resources posted a price of about $78 a barrel for North Dakota sweet crude, about $10 below levels seen earlier this year. At that price, the value of the state's Bakken oil pumped each day in April was worth about $45 million.

The record price for the North Dakota sweet crude was set July 3, 2008, at $136.08 per barrel, according to Lynn Helms, director of the mineral resources department.