At the current rate of monthly increases, North Dakota could be the No. 2 oil producing state within months. The "Economic Miracle State" of North Dakota pumped another record amount of oil during the month of December at a daily rate of almost 535,000 barrels, which was 55% above its output from a year earlier, and only the second time that the state's daily production exceeded 500,000 barrels (see chart above, data here). Oil production in the Peace Garden State has more than doubled from 246,000 barrels per day two years ago, and North Dakota is now producing enough oil to completely displace the imports of crude oil from Colombia (364,000 bpd) or Iraq (422,000 bpd).
Other highlights of today's December production report:
1. The number of wells producing oil in the state increased to 6,211, setting a new record.
2. The amount of oil produced per well also reached a record high of 86 barrels per day in December, which is 56% higher than the 55 barrels per day two years ago, and probably reflects both increasing productivity from fracking technology and drilling in more productive areas.
3. The combination of a record number of wells producing oil at record-setting productivity levels has put North Dakota on a trajectory to surpass both California (543,000 barrels per day) probably last month in January and Alaska (555,000 bpd) in February to become the No. 2 oil-producing state in the U.S. early this year At the current pace of record-setting monthly gains, North Dakota's oil production is currently on track to break the 600,000 barrels per day level by March, break the 700,000 level by next August, and exceed 800,000 barrels per day by the end of this year. At that point, North Dakota oil could be enough to displace either Venezuela's or Nigeria's imports.
4. North Dakota's oil production has now surpassed OPEC-member Ecuador's daily production of 485,000 barrels.
As a result of the ongoing oil boom in the Bakken area, North Dakota continues to lead the nation with the lowest state unemployment rate at 3.3% for December, five full percentage points below the nation's average 8.3% rate for December. There are 16 North Dakota counties with jobless rates at or below 3% for December, and Williams County, which is at the center of the Bakken oil boom, boasts the lowest county jobless rate in the country at just 1%.
Bottom Line: The ongoing record-setting oil production in North Dakota continues to make it the most economically successful state in the country, with record levels of employment and income growth, increasing tax revenues, the lowest foreclosure rate in the country, a strong real estate market, and jobless rates in many counties of the Bakken region below 3%.