North Dakota is hitting all sorts of oil production records lately, as frackers pumped more than 1.13 million barrels of crude per day in August, an all-time record in a state that has seen oil booms in the past. Drillers have now pumped more than 1 billion barrels of oil from the Bakken shale formation, and the formerly forgettable midwestern state now contributes some 13 percent of our country’s oil production. And, as the American Enterprise Institute points out, the boom is showing no signs of slowing down:
[…] The state’s average daily oil production increased in August by 24% (26% for Bakken oil) compared to a year ago. Remarkably, in less than three years, oil production in North Dakota has more than doubled from 547,326 bpd in January 2012 to 1.13 million bpd in August.[…] Due to improvement in drilling technologies, the daily oil produced from each well in North Dakota averaged 101 barrels in August (129 barrels per well in the Bakken), just slightly below the record-setting level in June and July of 102 barrels per well. In 2009, the daily oil per well in North Dakota was only 52 barrels, so the productivity of oil extraction in the state has more than doubled in only five years.
The American shale revolution produces hits new milestones seemingly every month, and while that consistent deluge of good news may water down the impact of any one snippet, it doesn’t depreciate the significance of this one. In fact, this shows that firms are continuing to improve drilling methods and boost efficiency, which is a very good sign for America’s energy future. As the EIA reports, industry in North Dakota is also working on reducing flaring—the process of burning excess drilled gas—which will both boost production and cut down on emissions of methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas:
[I]ncreased volumes require additional infrastructure to gather, process, and transport gas volumes instead of flaring them. These additions can take time to build, and well operators are often reluctant to delay production. In an effort to reduce the amount of natural gas flared, North Dakota’s Industrial Commission (NDIC) established targets that decrease the amount of flared gas over the next several years. […] The first target of 26% flared is set for fourth-quarter 2014, with continued decreases in flaring reaching 10% by 2020. North Dakota recently reported that it was close to achieving the 26% reduction target for natural gas flaring, as the percentage in August was 28% flared, or 375 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) out of a total production of 1,340 MMcf/d. The rest of the produced natural gas was either sold or used at the production site.
Cutting down on flaring is a win for industry and Gaia alike, and it’s yet another sign of the health and vitality of the shale boom.