Bakken Oil up, and so are Walmart wages.

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July was another record-setting month for North Dakota oil, as Bakken oil fields top 1M barrels/day for second month


Oil drillers in North Dakota pumped out 1.11 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) in July, setting another new monthly all-time record high for the state’s crude oil production (see blue line in chart), according to oil production data released Friday by North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources. July marked the fourth straight month that daily oil production in the Peace Garden State exceeded one million barrels. Another important production milestone was reached in July, as average daily crude oil output from the state’s shale-rich Bakken oil fields topped one million bpd for the second straight month (see brown line in chart), joining an elite group of only ten oil fields in world history whose daily output exceeded one million barrels at peak production. Oil production in the Bakken has increased more than 7X over the last 5 years, from only 146,783 bpd in July 2009 to 1.047 million bpd in July of this year.

Here are some other highlights of North Dakota’s record-setting oil output in July:

1) The state’s average daily oil production increased in July by 27% (29.2% for Bakken oil) compared to a year ago. Remarkably, in only the last two and-a-half years, oil production in North Dakota has more than doubled from 547,326 bpd in January 2012 to 1.11 million bpd in July.

2) Due to improvement in drilling technologies, the daily oil produced from each well in North Dakota averaged 102 barrels in July (130 barrels per well in the Bakken), matching the record-setting level in June. 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.

3) For the 12th consecutive month starting last summer, North Dakota’s oil production in July represented more than 12% of all US crude oil, and was actually nearly 13% in July. Five years ago in June of 2009, North Dakota produced only 4% of total US crude output, and the state’s oil production was about half of oil production in both California and Alaska. Due to the phenomenal growth of oil output in the shale-rich Bakken oil fields, North Dakota surpassed California and Alaska in 2012 to become the country’s No. 2 largest oil-producing state and in July the state produced 13% of all US crude oil.

4) In dollar terms, the oil produced in North Dakota in July had a daily market value of $115 million at the average oil price during the month of $103.59 per barrel for West Texas Intermediate (WTI). For the entire month of July, that would put the market value of North Dakota oil at almost $3.6 billion, setting a new all-time record for the dollar value of the state’s monthly oil output.

5) The Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota produced more than one million bpd in July for the second straight month (see brown line in chart), setting a new all-time monthly output record, which also represented a new record high 94.3% 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 breakthrough drilling techniques (hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling) were able to tap into a bonanza of unconventional oil in the shale-rich areas of western North Dakota. As mentioned above, the Bakken now joins an elite group of only ten super-giant oil fields worldwide to ever produce more than a million barrels of oil per day.

Bottom Line: July was another stellar month in “Saudi Dakota,” with average daily oil production surpassing one million bpd for the third straight month, and establishing yet another new record high for the state’s oil output at 1.11 million bpd. The state’s shale-rich Bakken oil field reached an important energy milestone by producing more than a million barrels a day in July for the second consecutive month.

The shale boom continues to make the Peace Garden State America’s most economically successful state – with growth in employment and personal income that lead the nation, the lowest state jobless rate in the country for the last 67 months starting in January 2009 (2.8% in July), an enviable and whopping state budget surplus approaching $2 billion, the highest state GDP growth in 2013 of 9.7%, strong housing and construction markets (more than 1,000 permits for single-family homes were issued in both June and July, setting new all-time monthly records), thousands of landowners who have become millionaires from oil and gas royalties (estimated oil royalty payments of more than $17 million every day in July, at 15% of the approximately $115 million in market value calculated above), jobless rates in eight of the state’s 53 counties at or below 2.0% in July (with Williams County at only 0.9%, the lowest county jobless rate in America), and starting hourly wages at the Williston ND Walmart of $17.20 — 2.4 times the state’s minimum wage of $7.25, and even above the $15 per hour “living wage” that is being proposed in some cities around the country and by fast-food workers for their industry (see photo below).

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 vast oceans of shale oil and shale gas in the state’s Bakken region. The Peace Garden State, along with Texas, are the shining stars of The Great American Energy Boom, which continues to be the strongest reason to be optimistic about the US economy.