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North Dakota hits new output high; looks set to be next US energy hub

World Pipelines,

The oil output from the US State of North Dakota for April reached a new record high of 609 000 bpd, making the state the second largest oil-producer after Texas. This figure was a 31 800 bpd rise on figures from March.

North Dakota’s daily output has risen to such an extent that it has overtaken the OPEC member country of Ecuador. The recent surge in production is largely attributable to the fact that the once hard-to-reach oil deposits in the Bakken shale have been made more accessible through advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

The Bakken formation (which contributes approximately 80% of the oil produced in North Dakota) is a particularly difficult formation from which to extract oil. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that whilst most conventional wells decline after their first year of production by around 5 to 8%, wells in the Bakken face a production decline over the same period of a whopping 65%.

A great deal had also been made of the US Geological Survey’s finding that an estimated 200 billion bbls of oil could be present in the Bakken formation, but even if this were true, only 10% of this would be recoverable.

For the time-being, however, the state is going through a period of rapid growth, hinted at by its unemployment statistics showing a rate of just 3% (the lowest in the US); certainly a heartening figure during a time in which the US economy's recovery continues to look somewhat anemic.

Despite the Bakken formation's reluctance to give up its hydrocarbons, North Dakota looks set to have a long future of oil production ahead of it, with up to 30 potential fields scattered about the state. The high production of the present, coupled with bright prospects for the future look set to place North Dakota as the next US energy hub.

Edited from various sources by David Bizley

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