Most people probably think about the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico when it comes to US shale oil production. North Dakota is also experiencing its own oil boom, though, with its Department of Mineral Resources recently announcing that oil production exceeded 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in October, an increase on the 1.44 million bpd of oil production in September.
Natural gas production also saw a 4% monthly increase in production, rising to 2.52 billion cubic feet per day in October. Flaring continues to be above target levels, however, due to the capacity to process natural gas not keeping pace with rising production.
Some 18% of natural gas was flared in October compared with the state’s target of 12%. This should change soon with the completion of a new pipeline for natural gas liquids, which in turn will allow some gas processing plants to run at 100% capacity.
The Bakken shale play has largely driven the growth in the state’s oil production in recent years. While this has produced modest amounts of oil since the 1950s, it is only since the advent of technologies like hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling that it has become commercially viable on a large scale.
ExxonMobil, the oil major behind the Mobil lubricant brand, acquired large acreage in the Bakken play in 2009 and 2012 through acquisitions, but has so far taken a relatively cautious approach to developing its assets there, although it does regard it as a key area for growth in tight oil.