North Dakota oil production jumped to more than 1 million bbl/d in July for the first time in two months but remained below its peak as the coronavirus pandemic continued to hamper output in the state's Bakken shale field, a state official said Sept. 15.
Crude oil output rose about 20% to about 32.3 million barrels total for the month of July, or about 1.04 million bbl/d, from about 26.8 million barrels in June, North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said, citing the latest available data.
August numbers are also expected to be on the upswing, and could reach as much as 1.3 million bbl/d, but the trend will likely reverse itself as the summer driving season fades and recent lower U.S. benchmark oil prices take their toll, he said during the state's monthly oil update.
"We don't see pre-COVID demand coming back until late 2022 so we're facing this for the next couple of years, this up and down," Helms said.
Oil production across the country was slashed after a historic price crash in April and shut-ins have been particularly sharp in North Dakota, which produced a peak of more than 1.4 million bbl/d in 2019.
The current price of crude produced in the Bakken, the second-largest U.S. shale basin, is $33/bbl, sharply down from more than $60/bbl before the health crisis curtailed fuel demand, Helms said.
Current prices are not enough to prompt more drilling in the state, Helms said, noting it has a higher breakeven cost for production than in other shale formations, like Texas' Permian Basin.
"Unless we have much better prices and we start to see frack crews and drilling rigs, we'll start to see a decline," he said.
There are currently only about 10 oil and gas drilling rigs in the state, which Helms called a "modern day low."
Leasing hot spots, improved drilling metrics and more reveal some silver lining in the cloud hanging over Midcontinent producers.
Ingenuity and innovation are delivering steady growth in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil and gas industry.
Subsea connection advances facilitate diverless shallow-water tieback.