After North Dakota hit one million barrels of daily production in July for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the state brought a handful of additional drilling rigs online and added more than 122,000 barrels of production in the latest state report.
Still, North Dakota Oil and Gas Director Lynn Helms said Friday, Oct. 16 that consecutive months of growth shouldn’t necessarily be interpreted as a sign of a recovery in the oil economy. As with last month’s report, Helms attributed a significant portion of the new growth to industry concern over a possible Joe Biden presidency, which he says has prompted producers to step in while they are. may again, predicting that a less fossil-fuel-friendly administration could lock in new drilling projects.
In addition to short-term growth figures in the Bakken, Helms last reported on the state’s plugging and reclamation program, the $ 66 million CARES Act allocation designed to restore wells abandoned oil tank and put back the oil workers without field work. .
On that front, Helms said the Mineral Resources Department failed to meet its original goal of plugging and recovering 400 wells, prompting the department to file a request with the State Emergency Commission. for approval to reuse nearly $ 17 million of funds allocated to CARES.
As the winter freeze approaches, Helms said the program will not have time to recover about 50% of targeted wells. He highlighted the unforeseen tenders and legal issues that delayed the start of the program.
A lot of that pushed those confiscations to six or eight weeks, so we lost a month and a half to two months because of the lengthening of the legal process and then the contracting process to get the contractors engaged, Helms said, noting the claims program. , which was approved in June, was only fully staffed last week.
To exceed the Dec. 31 deadline imposed by the federal government for CARES spending, the ministry hopes to designate unused funds for the reclamation of oil company grants for hydraulic fracturing work, which Helms says would employ between 500 and 1,000 workers in the petroleum sector before the end of the year. and generate significant tax revenues for the state.
Wells that have not been restored would still be recovered with non-CARES funding next summer.
Helms also set out his expectations for the rest of the year after next month’s presidential election, predicting that a Biden victory could spark an industry rush to drill new wells ahead of inauguration day in January. While much of the presidential conversation revolved around speculation about Bidens’ stance on hydraulic fracturing, Helms noted that drilling permits would be the highest priority for companies ahead of an administration rollover.
If you get it drilled, you can fracture it, but if you don’t get a license to drill, there’s not much you can do there, he said.
As the economic ripples from the pandemic continue to extend into the fall, crude oil prices have struggled to stay above the $ 40 mark, leaving the Bakken region well below the mark. threshold generally necessary to justify sustained production.
North Dakota producers have burned 8% of the natural gas released during the oil production process, clearing states’ target of limiting flaring to 9%, starting early next month.
Readers can contact Adam Willis, Forum reporter, member of the Report for America Corps, at [email protected]
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