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Oil, gas production sets record
May 23, 2013
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
To the surprise of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, despite three
major snowstorms in March, oil and gas production during that time was
at an all-time high. The average barrel per day produced in March was
782,812, while a new all-time high of 846,906 million cubic feet of
natural gas was produced in that time as well.
Given that North Dakota continues to set oil and gas production records,
and the reserves of oil and natural gas yet to be recovered are huge,
the North Dakota Industrial Commission has been working hard to make
sure everyone in Washington, D.C., understands the scope of oil and gas
production as well.
“We don’t often get a lot of opportunities to go to Washington, D.C.,
and represent the interests of North Dakota,” states Lynn Helms,
director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission. “But last week we
were given that chance.”
Going with a group called the Western Energy Alliance, Helms and members
of the Industrial Commission visited with 190 congressmen and senators
and talked with them about issues such as federal policies and taxes
that impact western energy states.
“I had the opportunity to testify in two hearings,” states Helms. “One
was before the committee of Science, Space and Technology about the
The Keystone Pipeline is a pipeline system that originates in Alberta,
Canada, and will eventually extend down to the Gulf of Mexico. The
project has not been approved by President Obama yet, and continues to
be met with controversy.
“There are already 60,000 barrels per day committed to the Keystone
Pipeline project. And there is space for 100,000 bpd,” states Helms.
According to Helms, that commitment and the space for additional
commitments to transport crude by the Keystone Pipeline means 300 to 500
less semis on North Dakota highways every day.
“Oil would, instead of finding its way out of state by truck, be going
out of state by pipeline,” states Helms. “And the Department of
Transportation estimates that three to six traffic fatalities, and
roughly 80 to 150 traffic injuries, are associated with that kind of
The second committee Helms spoke in front of was the Department of the
Interior on their proposed land management hydraulic fracturing rules.
“If the federal government adds an additional layer of permit
regulations on to what we already have, then all federal lands in North
Dakota will be severely impacted,” states Helms, referring specifically
to the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation.
“As it stands right now, it takes 180 to 200 days to get a drilling
permit on Ft. Berthold, as opposed to 20 to 30 days for state and
private lands,” states Helms. “Our estimate is that additional
regulations will double that wait time.”
Helms states that he received a mix of reactions during his time in Washington, D.C.
“I met with the congressman from Oklahoma and he was all in on hydraulic
fracturing. But the congressman from Idaho was not so much,” states
Helms. “Then there were meetings with congressmen from Hawaii and
California where there wasn’t much opportunity to get into a deep
discussion. It was more of a meet and greet and leave some material
Helms states there are some pieces of legislation that could help. One
is to tell the Department of Interior not to impose hydraulic fracturing
regulations, and the other is for a pilot program that will promote the
sharing of resources.
This second piece of legislation would, according to Helms, direct the
Department of the Interior to move people from less busy parts of the
country and rotate them into busier and bogged down places, like western
According to the North Dakota Industrial Commission, there are major
strides taking place in oil and gas production. And not just regarding
the recently released U.S. Geological Survey of the Bakken and Three
A report issued by the International Energy Agency refers to the
technology being used in North Dakota in shale oil recovery as a
game-changer. And Helms agrees.
“North Dakota will be one of the places that change the whole import/export dynamic in the United States,” states Helms.
As a whole, the Industrial Commission remains optimistic, both about
their trip to Washington, D.C., and the state’s oil and gas production
moving into the summer months.
Rig counts are currently at 193, and are estimated to reach 200 in the
summer. Helms also expects to see significant strides in reducing
flaring in the summer months, as well as more all-time high production