North Dakota oil output at new high in August: regulator

NEW YORK Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:43pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil production in North Dakota accelerated in August, jumping by 3.6 percent from July levels to top the 700,000 barrel-per-day mark for the first time in the state's history, data from the state Industrial Commission showed on Wednesday.

The state's August oil output rose by nearly 25,000 barrels-per-day from the previous month and hit just above 701,000 bpd, fast approaching volumes from OPEC-member Qatar, which produced 770,000 bpd in August.

Most of this was from the Bakken and Three Forks shale prospects, where production rose to just above 635,000 bpd, the data also showed.

A combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies jump-started the oil boom, unlocking reserves trapped in shale rock.

North Dakota oil output grew by an average 3.4 percent per month during the first eight months of 2012, the state's data shows.

Output has doubled in volume since February last year and the state is now the second biggest oil producer in the country after Texas.

Thanks to the boom, North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, one of the fastest growth rates of per capita personal income, and a $1.6 billion surplus in its two-year budget through 2013.

But oil production is likely to suffer in the winter as harsh winds and snowstorms render remote wells inaccessible and push costs higher.

(Reporting by Selam Gebrekidan; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Bob Burgdorfer and Phil Berlowitz)

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