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July brought new records in North Dakota's oil production, as nearly every month this year has done, according to the state's Department of Mineral Resources, which regulates and tracks production.

In the latest month for which official figures are available, oil companies  pumped nearly 10 million barrels of oil -- 9.952 million to be more exact -- out of North Dakota's share of the Williston Basin in July, a record, as is the daily output in July of 321,042 barrels.

Every month since January, the state has set new oil production numbers.

July's figures were up from 9.43 million barrels produced in June at a rate of 314,481 per day and were nearly 100,000 barrels a day more than a year earlier.

In July 2009, the state produced 7.06 million barrels of oil, at a daily rate of 227,880 barrels.  has Oil production nearly doubled the past two years in the state as higher prices for oil fueled exploration of the Bakken shale formation 2 miles underground.

Early this year, news came that the formation directly under the Bakken, the Three Forks, also is capable of producing nearly as much as the Bakken.

The prospects have made the Williston Basin among the hottest oil play in the U.S. and Canada. The Williston Basin stretches across most of western North Dakota, plus smaller areas in eastern Montana and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

As of Wednesday, there were 145 drilling rigs working in the state, compared with the average of 105 each day in the first six months of the year, according to figures from the department's website.

A record 5,051 wells were producing in July, said Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, in his monthly "Director's Cut" report on the website at www.dmr.nd.gov/oilgas.

In June, 4,977 wells were producing and in July 2009, 4,187 wells were producing.

Some of the new wells are big producers. According to Reuters, Credo Petroleum, a Denver company, reported a recent Bakken well it partially owns in Williams County came in with an official initial flow of 2,278 barrels per day, which is the highest output of any well Credo has participated in over its 32-year history.

Continental Resources, of Enid, Okla., one of the biggest players in the Bakken and Three Forks, reported last week that it had completed 13 company-operated wells in the North Dakota Oil Patch since July 1, with an average production of 1,070 barrels per day, one as high as 1,722 barrels per day.

Continental also participated in completing seven other wells since July 1 that averaged 1,158 barrels a day, according to Reuters.

Helms reported that the state has enough capacity, through pipelines, trains and trucks, to get the oil out of the state, for at least another year or two.

About 10 percent of North Dakota's crude oil is shipped by rail and 5 percent to 8 percent is trucked to Canada. There are three projects under way to increase both pipeline and rail shipping, Helms said.

Each drilling rig can complete a new well about every month.

At the department's estimate that each drilling rig means a total of about 120 jobs, 145 rigs means 17,400 jobs.

Natural gasproduction, which in North Dakota largely is a byproduct of drilling for oil, also is setting records, Helms reports this week.

Last year, the state produced a then-record 80 million barrels of oil, which is pretty close to one day of worldwide oil production and use.

In the first six months of this year, 50.44 million barrels of crude were pumped, with nearly 10 million added in July, on a track that will bring the year's total production to 110 million barrels or more.

The U.S. produces about 5 million barrels of  crude oil per day, imports about 10 million and uses about 20 million barrels of petroleum per day, according to figures from the Department of Energy.

North Dakota is the fourth-largest producing state, but well behind California, Alaska and the top state, Texas, which pumps out nearly 1 million barrels a day.

Aside from the 17 producing states, a great share of U.S. oil is produced off shore on federal lands.

Source: Trading Markets 

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