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Bakken Oil Production Rises As Oil Prices Jump

drilling rigs

Crude oil production in the Bakken shale in North Dakota has been experiencing some major challenges lately, but it is firmly on the growth path, said the state’s Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms in an interview for S&P Global Platts.

Helms identified as the biggest challenges growing production in the Permian as well as a hypothetical ending of the OPEC production cut agreement. While the first challenge is very real, with the Permian still being the star of the shale patch, the latter challenge is more likely than not to remain hypothetical for the foreseeable future.

Of course with oil, the foreseeable future is usually no longer than a couple of months, but according to Helms, E&Ps in the Bakken will continue to pump more than 1 million bpd but less than 1.1 million bpd until the end of the year and into 2018.

"We should see oil production in a growth mode, 10-15,000 b/d month on month is where we expect to be," Helms said, adding that the North Dakota shale industry would need WTI at US$60 a barrel to start expanding production beyond the 1.1-million-bpd mark. "That's really the magic number that really begins to push us to 1.6 or 2 mil b/d."

Helms was optimistic about the medium term, expecting the Bakken to produce close to 1.2 million bpd by 2019, which implies he expects WTI prices to go beyond the US$60 “magic number”.

Related: Why Oil Prices Will Keep Moving Up

Yet, competition from the Permian with its lower production costs in the sweetest spots is hampering this production growth in North Dakota. This month, the EIA projects oil production in the Permian will hit 2.7 million bpd.

According to Helms, this is because the Bakken is a more mature play: the Permian, he said, is where the Bakken was in 2010-2011, when there were a lot of unproven resources. If there was no competition for capital from Texas, production in the Bakken would grow by 100,000 bpd on a monthly basis.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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