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Oil production, well permits increase

An oil well pumps along Highway 10 east of South Heart on Monday afternoon while an oil rig about 2 miles southeast drills for more. (Press Photo by Dustin Monke)

BISMARCK --  After passing the 1 million barrels per day benchmark in April, North Dakota oil production reached another all-time high in May of 1,039,635 barrels per day, according to preliminary numbers released by the Department of Mineral Resources.

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The number of well completions increased 14 percent to 227, however, windy, cool weather hampered movement of oil and hydraulic fracturing crews with two days of heavy rain in the Dickinson area and five to six days with wind speeds in excess of 50 mph in Dickinson and Minot, which meant fewer wells being completed, said Director Lynn Helms.

At the end of May, there were 610 wells waiting on completion work, he said, adding he expects a significant surge in completed wells in June through August.

Drilling permitting increased significantly as oil companies and operators focus on getting started on new wells before winter.

“(They’re) looking at the construction season knowing that between Halloween and Thanksgiving all well pads have to be completed,” Helms said.

The drilling rig count was up slightly from April to May, and from May to June the rig count increased by one to 190.

Helms said he expects an increased rig count in the third and fourth quarters with one major operator committing to a half-dozen rigs.

North Dakota also produced an all-time high of 1.19 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas in May, also based on preliminary figures.

The percentage of natural gas flared dropped to 28 percent as the Hess gas processing plant at Tioga. increased to full capacity.

In April, 30 percent was flared, down from 33 percent in March.