Another New Oil Production Record For North Dakota In April

Includes: OIL, USO
by: Mark J. Perry

North Dakota set another new monthly oil production record at 793,302 barrels per day (bpd) in April according to oil production data released last Friday by North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources (see chart below). For the ninth month in a row, the Peace Garden State produced more than 700,000 barrels of oil per day, and total oil production exceeded 20 million barrels for the 10th straight month. Here are some other highlights of North Dakota's record-setting oil output in April:

  1. The state's average daily oil production increased 29.8% in April compared to a year ago, and followed annual increases of 34.9% in March and 39.3% in February. Amazingly, it has taken less than two years for oil production in North Dakota to more than double from 385,800 bpd in June of 2011 to 793,302 bpd in April (see chart below).
  2. The Bakken region in western North Dakota produced more than 700,000 bpd in March for the fourth straight month, and established a new all-time monthly output record of 727,149 bpd, which represented 91.7% of the state's monthly oil production. In contrast, the Bakken region produced less than 9% of the state's oil output at the beginning of 2007, before hydraulic fracturing revolutionized domestic oil production in the shale-rich states of North Dakota and Texas.
  3. For the month of March (most recent month available for import data), North Dakota's oil production surpassed imports from every country except for Canada (3.7 million bpd), Saudi Arabia (1.28 million bpd).

Largely as a result of the state's booming shale oil production, North Dakota continues to lead the nation with the lowest state unemployment rate at 3.3% in April, more than four percentage points below the national average of 7.6% for that month. There were 16 North Dakota counties with jobless rates at or below 3.0% in April, and three counties (Williams, Slope, and Billings) at the center of the Bakken oil field had jobless rates below 1% in April.

The extraordinary growth in North Dakota oil production has fueled exponential growth in the state's oil and gas jobs, which have more than tripled over the last three years to another new record high in April. Payrolls at oil and gas companies in North Dakota have increased by almost 5,000 over the last year, which means that about 20 new shovel-ready jobs are being created every business day -- and those are just the new jobs directly involved in drilling activities. Overall employment throughout the entire state increased by 3.7% through April from a year earlier, more than double the 1.7% pace of job growth nationally over that period. Since the beginning of the recession in 2007, total employment in North Dakota has increased by more than 21.9% to a record high level in April, while payrolls nationally are still 1.7% below the December 2007 level.

Bottom Line: April was another record-setting month for oil output in North Dakota, and the shale oil boom there continues to make it one of the most economically successful states in America -- with growth in employment and income that lead the nation, the lowest state jobless rate in the country, a state budget surplus of $3.8 billion, the highest state GDP growth last year of 13.4%, one of the lowest home foreclosure rates, strong housing and construction markets, thousands of landowners who have become millionaires from oil royalties, and jobless rates in 16 of the state's counties at or below 3.0% in April.

North Dakota's economic success, job creation, and energy-based prosperity is being driven by the development of the state's vast energy resources, especially the ocean of shale oil in the state's Bakken region, which supplied 92% of the state's oil in April. It’s an economic model that could easily spread energy-related prosperity and job growth elsewhere if more domestic and offshore energy resources were opened up to greater exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas.