March 19, 2010

Rig count passes 100 milestone

Rig count passes 100 milestone
Mountrail County leads the state in exploration

For the first time since February 1982, the oil rig count drilling in North Dakota has surpassed 100 with more expected in the coming months.
As of last Friday, 102 rigs were active in eight counties in the state, which is creeping up on the all-time high of 146 rigs that were drilling for oil in October 1981.
The eight counties that currently have exploration going on include Mountrail, McKenzie, Dunn, Renville, Bottineau, Bowman, Williams and Divide. Several other counties have oil wells but no rigs are currently drilling beyond the eight listed counties.
Lynn Helms, the executive director of the Oil and Gas Division of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, said the activity is certainly robust but he doubts the state will hit the 146. He wouldn’t be surprised, however, if the rig count edges up to 140.
Helms did acknowledge that the 102 rigs now drilling is an important milestone in North Dakota’s oil industry and is sparking a lot of economic activity in the west.
Since there have been ups and downs in the oil industry since the bust in the ‘80s, the state has gotten close but never surpassed that magic number of 100 until now.
Then, late last fall, it was announced North Dakota became the fourth leading oil producer in the United States behind Texas, Alaska and California, surpassing well known oil producing states Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wyoming.
It had been less than a year prior that North Dakota was sitting in the 10th spot and in early 2006, there were barely 20 rigs drilling across the state.
Four years later, Mountrail County has more drilling rigs, leading the state with 37 active rigs, according to the Web site of the Oil and Gas Division.
That means that 36 percent of the oil rigs now drilling in North Dakota, are working in Mountrail County, which includes the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Thus, slightly more than one-third of the state’s activity is happening in our back yard.
And if Mountrail County Sheriff Ken Halvorson’s 2009 police report is any indication of the activity, fee revenue should increase dramatically next year.
Halvorson reported that his office collected $455,503 in permit fees to move oil rigs on county roads last year, which is up from $168,073 in 2008.

The Weather Network