Mild winter helps North Dakota boost oil production

A mild, dry winter during 2011-12 enabled producers to boost oil production from North Dakota’s Bakken formation in the Williston basin where advances in unconventional drilling continue to be made, according to Steve Carroll, ConocoPhillips drilling and completion manager.

Speaking during a May 16 onshore drilling conference hosted by the International Association of Drilling Contractors in Houston, Carroll noted the 2011-12 winter was in stark contrast to the 2010-11 winter, which was one of the harshest winters in memory for North Dakota.

North Dakota has surpassed Alaska to become the second oil-producing state in the US, following Texas, the North Dakota Industrial Commission Department of Mineral Resources announced during May.

State statistics showed North Dakota produced 17.8 million bbl during March, averaging an all-time high of 575,490 b/d. The number of wells in the state reached a record 6,921 in March compared with 6,729 in February.

ConocoPhillips has 626,000 net acres in the Williston basin with Bakken potential. Plans for 2012 include having 9-10 rigs under contract in the Bakken/Three Forks by yearend, Carroll said. The company has reduced horizontal drilling time by developing new methods and best practices.

On May 1, ConocoPhillips’s refineries, pipelines, and chemical plants spun off to form a separate company, Phillips 66.

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