Bakken Gas Production Up In 2021 As Oil Drops Once Again
Annual natural gas production – measured as gross withdrawals – in North Dakota’s Bakken region increased by 9 percent in 2021, even as the region’s crude oil production declined by 6 percent, according to the Drilling Productivity Report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
According to the report, natural gas production reached an annual high of 2.97 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2021, surpassing the previous high of 2.95 Bcf/d set in 2019 and reversing an 8 percent decline in 2020 amid demand decline and production shut-ins related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In contrast, the Bakken region’s average annual crude oil production peaked at 1.45 million barrels per day in 2019 and then declined by 17 percent in 2020 and by 6 percent in 2021. The region’s ratio of natural gas to crude oil production has been increasing since 2008 and continues to accelerate.
North Dakota state regulators and operators continue to reduce natural gas flaring at the wellhead that has accompanied natural gas production.
The EIA stated that the North Dakota Industrial Commission raised natural gas capture targets, or the percentage of natural gas captured at the wellhead rather than flared, from 74 percent in October 2014 to 91 percent at the beginning of November 2020.
As of December 2021, North Dakota’s natural gas flaring rate averaged 7.5 percent, which means that 92.5 percent of the natural gas was captured.
To meet the capture targets, midstream companies operating in North Dakota expanded their natural gas processing capacity from 1.0 Bcf/d in 2013 to 4.0 Bcf/d in 2021, according to the NDIC.
The NDIC expects processing capacity to increase to 4.2 Bcf/d in 2023 because more pipeline takeaway capacity has been added.
In February 2022, WBI Energy placed into service the 100-mile North Bakken Expansion pipeline, which can transport 0.25 Bcf/d of natural gas from production centers in Tioga, North Dakota, to demand centers in McKenzie County, North Dakota.
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