* State output reaches over 558,000 bpd
* Bakken oil output at 494,000 bpd
* Natgas production drops to 17.4 bcf in February (Rewrites, adds details)
NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - Crude oil output in North Dakota reached a record high in February as a mild winter boosted activity in the Bakken shale prospect, bringing the state closer to overtaking Alaska as the second-largest oil producer in the country.
North Dakota crude oil production rose by about 12,000 barrels per day (bpd), to more than 558,000 bpd, data from the state regulator showed on Wednesday, affirming the state’s position as the third-largest producing state in the union after Texas and Alaska.
Output in Bakken shale prospect, a stretch of shale rock south of the Candian border, rose by about 13,000 bpd to 494,000 bpd, the state data showed.
The oil boom in North Dakota, unleashed by a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies, has upended the U.S. oil market since 2007 and doubled the state’s oil output in the last two years.
It has also boosted the local job market. North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate in the United States in February at 3.1 percent, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Natural gas production, however, dropped by about 0.30 billion cubic feet (bcf) in February to 17.4 bcf, state data shows. About 62 percent of that was brought to market.
Alaska produced some 612,000 bpd of crude oil from onshore fields in January while Texas topped the charts with 1.67 million bpd from gushers in shale and conventional oil fields, data from the Department of Energy shows.
Reporting by Selam Gebrekidan, editing by M.D. Golan