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Regulator sees further uptick in North Dakota oil production

May 15, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s top oil regulator says the state’s crude production grew in March and should keep rising throughout the summer, following a lackluster start to the years.

The state’s daily oil output increased 2% to 1.108 million barrels per day in March, according to figures released Friday.

State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms attributed the uptick to oil companies bringing more wells online that had already been drilled but not yet fracked, a necessary step before a well starts producing oil. Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, involves injecting water, sand and chemicals down a well at a high pressure to form cracks in rock to release oil.

At the height of the oil industry’s woes earlier in the coronavirus pandemic, just one crew was working in the state to bring newly drilled wells online. Now there are nine, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

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Eighteen rigs were drilling for oil in North Dakota on Friday, up from the single digits last summer.

Helms described the turnaround as “a nice gentle recovery.” Oil production in March was nearly 25,000 barrels per day more than in February.

Natural gas production grew by 6% in March to 2.879 billion cubic feet per day. The industry captured 94% of the gas it produced and is meeting the 91% target set by state regulators to help alleviate the wasteful flaring of excess gas.