Inforum News | Patrick Springer
FARGO — North Dakota’s soaring Oil Patch has placed it squarely in the midst of output levels for members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries — and it already would rank 18th in the world if the state were a country. North Dakota produces an average of 1.4 million barrels of oil per day, a level that places it ahead of seven of OPEC’s 13 member countries, including Libya, Algeria and Venezuela.
Now, as North Dakota’s oil production continues to grow, it is knocking at the door of a major producer in the North Sea.
“It’s pretty astounding when you think about it,” said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, which represents the oil and gas industry. “We’re producing nearly as much energy, and with our growth will surpass Norway,” which produces more than 1.5 million barrels of oil per day, he said. “Bakken oil is making an imprint on the world. Our role in world oil supply is substantial and significant.”
North Dakota’s emergence as a producer of oil and gas on a global scale is the result of a dramatic upswing in the Bakken oil formation from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which unlocks oil in shale deposits deep underground. Production in the state’s Oil Patch surged more than eight-fold since 2008, when it produced 170,000 barrels per day.
North Dakota’s increased oil production matters to and benefits consumers, Ness said. “It’s lower gasoline prices,” as well as more stable prices at the pump, he said. “You don’t see huge jumps” in oil prices anymore.
The growth in North Dakota oil production helped push the United States to become the world’s top oil-producing nation, at more than 10.9 million barrels per day. Russia ranks second, producing 10.7 million barrels per day, followed by Saudi Arabia at 9.8 million barrels per day. In the United States, Texas far outpaces No. 2 North Dakota; it produces 3.49 million barrels per day, or almost 2 ½ times North Dakota’s level.
But thanks to advances in technology, North Dakota’s production continues to climb. The industry was forced to become more efficient during a slump in oil prices earlier this decade.
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