N.D. Oil Production Drops: Industry Officials Blame Weather - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

N.D. Oil Production Drops: Industry Officials Blame Weather

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Oil production dropped significantly in January and weather is to blame. Production has been up and down several times in the last few months. Director of Mineral Resources, Lynn Helms, expects this up and down pattern to continue through May. Donnell Preskey has an update on what else is impacting oil and gas production.

North Dakota Oil and Gas officials are blaming mother nature for a decrease in oil production in January. A winter storm dumped over five inches on the core of the Bakken, halting drilling.

"Everything shut down for three days. A little later in January we had severe wind chills which really hampers the hydraulic fracturing business," said Lynn Helms, Director of Mineral Resources.

Helms says he expects counties to impose strict load restrictions as temperatures rise, putting the brakes on certain truck traffic in oil country.

"They may drop things down to below ten ton load limit.So that basically means we won't move oil. Their whole point is the damage done to roads during that brief period takes weeks or months to repair," Helms said.

Helms says two companies, Weatherford and EOG, frustrated by this winter, have shifted capital to better climates.

"We believe we will be in this saw tooth patter from now until May."

Meanwhile, Helms is praising a new company to North Dakota for trying something new.

Bakken Hunter did things a little differently when planning to drill in Divide County. They lined up well sites with the existing natural gas pipeline system. A move that will mean zero flaring for those new wells.

"The gas gathering can be in place before a well is drilled. So that Bakken Hunter doesn't flare," said Helms.

Flaring has been an issue the oil and gas industry has been trying to tackle. 29% of natural gas is being wasted. Helms says there's an unusual situation in McKenzie County where the top producing well in the state is acting like a "bully." It started producing 5,000 barrels of oil a day -- and is not flaring gas but it's neighboring wells are. Because of other big producers in that area, pipeline officials will be working on ways to handle more pressure.

Oil production fell from just over 770,000 barrels of oil a day in December to 738,000 in January. However, just under one hundred new wells began pumping in January bringing us to a new all time high of 8,322 wells.

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