BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota for the first time produced more than 1.5 million barrels of oil a day in October, the state’s Department of Mineral Resources announced Friday, Dec. 13.

According to the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources’ Director’s Cut, an analysis of Oct. 2019 oil field productivity and market updates released on Dec. 13, the state once again outdid itself in terms of oil and natural gas production.

“It should be a very happy holiday for the state of North Dakota,” the department’s director, Lynn Helms, said during Friday’s edition of the Director’s Cut, a monthly update of oil and gas activity in the state.

The department saw a 5% increase in oil production and about a 4% increase in natural gas production over the previous month. While the month’s crude oil prices were a little weak by Helms’ standards, they beat the state’s revenue forecasts by 2%.

According to Katie Haarsager, public information specialist at the department’s Oil and Gas Division, the oil and gas revenue forecasts are based off certain averages being hit.

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“Those averages would be a goal of about 1.4 million barrels produced per day, which we’re above, a goal of about $48 for crude oil, which we’re just above, and a goal of 90 wells completed each month, which we’re above,” Haarsager said.

The containment of natural gas was also at an all-time high with 82% of the resource captured statewide. There was a slight drop in the number of drill rigs, however, which stands at 53.

“That’s more seasonal and capital-centered than anything,” Helms said of the decreased count of drill rigs. “We’re coming right down to the end of the year with difficult weather and difficult drilling operations.”

It was also on the subject of gas capture that Helms pointed out an issue on the Fort Berthold Reservation: rigs on fee land, or state owned property, captured gas at a 74% rate, while those on trust land, tribal property, performed at 68%, well below the state’s projected target of 88%.

“We still have a huge disparity between Fort Berthold productivity and statewide productivity in terms of natural gas capture,” he said. “Clearly, if we could get our arms around the reservation flaring, we’d be able to get to the goals the (Industrial) Commission has set.”

Helms was perhaps most excited about the Elk Creek Pipeline, which opened Thursday, Dec. 12.

“I just can’t emphasize how important that was to what’s been happening infrastructure-wise, in terms of gathering and processing capacity,” he said of the 900-mile, 20-inch diameter Oneok pipeline, the construction of which was completed just this week. It has the ability to transport up to 240,000 barrels of natural gas liquids per day.

“When we look at the December numbers, we should see significant improvement in gas capture,” Helms said.

Although there were a few setbacks discussed, Helm ended on a positive note.

“Really great news on every front,” he said.