200 Rigs Expected for Summer in ND - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

200 Rigs Expected for Summer in ND

Bismarck, ND -

193 rigs are operating in North Dakota today and despite the positive report from the USGS recently, the rig count should hold right around 200.

March oil and gas production set all time highs despite three winter storms.

And load restrictions are still in place in some counties which has forced some oil companies to scale back.

But as Donnell Preskey reports operators are gradually picking up the pace...

The recent USGS estimate of oil reserves boosts confidence in the North Dakota oil fields. But Director of Mineral Resources, Lynn Helms, says he doesn't expect it to impact rig numbers.

"This doubling of the reserve number, affirms what we have been saying. This isn't a play that is going to fall off a cliff in 2017, this is a play that will extend out to 2025, 2030," says Helms.

In Helms opinion, the USGS update is conservative.

"Our mean estimate is equal to their max," adds Helms.

Oil rigs have reduced the drilling time to 22 days.

However, a large number of wells, 440 of them are waiting to be fractured and completed.

Helms says, "An average is 110 days from the time they start drilling the well to the time they get it completed, so industry has not been successful in closing that gap."

30 percent of the natural gas produced at well sites continues to be flared.

But state oil and gas officials say new gas plants have started processing natural gas and will reduce flaring.

Director of the ND Pipeline Authority, Justin Kringstad says, "they are doing a lot of gathering prior to plants going online, so when the Williston plant came online last month, that gas was ready to be delivered."

One surprise to officials? Gas production increased significantly in March.

"Gas increased at a more rapid rate than oil did, at triple the rate. So as wells mature more gas production is coming from those wells."

Kringstad says plants can handle the natural gas being produced, the greatest challenge is getting pipelines connected to well sites in a timely manner. >>

Helms spent last week in Washington D.C. lobbying on Capitol Hill.

He and other members of the Western Energy Alliance met with 190 U.S. lawmakers.

Helms also testified on the Keystone Pipeline and it's importance to North Dakota and on rules for permits to drill on BLM land.


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