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Published February 28, 2011, 04:54 PM

113 million Barrels of North Dakota Oil Pumped in 2010

North Dakota pumped a record 113 million barrels of oil in 2010, smashing the previous high set a year earlier by 33 million barrels, state Industrial Commission records show.

By: James MacPherson, Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota pumped a record 113 million barrels of oil in 2010, smashing the previous high set a year earlier by 33 million barrels, state Industrial Commission records show.

The state set production records almost monthly in 2010, jumping from an average of 236,200 barrels daily in January to nearly 343,900 in December. A record 356,505 barrels a day was pumped in November, with nearly 10.7 million barrels produced for the month, state documents show.

December production figures were the latest available, because oil production numbers typically lag at least two months.

One year ago, the state had an average daily drill rig count of 94. The state Industrial Commission said 169 rigs were drilling Monday.

Oil production in North Dakota has boomed with the development of the Bakken and Three Forks formations in the western part of the state, providing a boon to the state economy as well. North Dakota sweet crude was fetching about $75 a barrel on Monday. But recent production has not been as robust as it might have been.

Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources, said in a statement that a harsh winter has hampered oil production, with 677 wells idled this month due to severe weather conditions. He said more than 1 million barrels of oil have been stranded at well sites, unable to make it to market. Helms did not return repeated telephone calls from The Associated Press.

The state produced a record 113 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2010, up from 92.4 billion cubic feet the year before.

Helms' statement said natural gas production also has been hurt by weather conditions. The amount burned as a byproduct of oil production "remains well above normal," he said.

Industrial Commission records show that about 30 percent of natural gas produced last year was not sold; it's unclear how much of that gas was flared.

Nearly one-third of the natural gas produced in North Dakota was flared in 2008 because of the lack of collecting systems and pipelines needed to move it to market. State officials have said that proportion has decreased with infrastructure improvements built to capture natural gas.

Less than 1 percent of natural gas is flared from oil fields nationwide, and less than 3 percent worldwide, according to the Energy Information Administration in Washington, D.C.

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