An Oil Boom, Where Allowed

By February 29, 2008Energy

A heavy week for North Dakota news here at, mostly because the state provides a model of the economic growth that accompanies a healthy energy sector and strong exports. Oil production is at a peak.

There are 3,854 wells producing oil, up from 3,648 a year ago and the most ever since oil first was commercially produced in the state in 1951.

The new price record and growing production figures means that every day, nearly $13 million worth of oil is pumped out of the state’s wells spread across 16 western counties.

That money is divided between oil companies, the owners to the mineral rights at the well and state, local and federal governments. Mineral rights owners get, roughly, 17 percent of the crude’s value. State government gets about 8 percent.

If production and prices remain at this level, it would mean about $5 billion worth of oil harvested in 2008 from North Dakota.

Stimulated by high prices, new exploration and drilling technology have made the Bakken Formation one of the big oil plays in North America right now. (The North Dakota Petroleum Council has a good summary of Bakken developments here.)

We also assure you, western North Dakota is far more beautiful, scenic and full of wildlife than the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, yet oil development is proceeding safely there. Why in North Dakota, and not Alaska?

P.S. Note the illustration for the story on the Grand Forks Herald’s website, a graphic with the label, “Boom Times.” The elements are the harvesting of grain, an oil rig, and a maple leaf. The maple leaf stands for Canada — importing millions and millions of dollars of North Dakota manufactured goods and farm products, helping the state lead the nation in export growth last year.

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