U.S. OIL BOOM podcast Interview of  Bob van der Valk, Senior Editor of the Bakken Oil Business Journal, by Brandon DeShaw, PE, Lab Director, Global Energy Laboratories

I recently chatted with a man that I’ll refer to as the “Yoda” of the U.S. Oil boom.
You remember Yoda from the Star Wars movies, right?
  • Spoke in riddles…
  • Elderly and ancient…
  • Hidden humor…
  • Extremely wise…
  • Um, well my guy didn’t really speak in riddles.
But he was very wise and had some fantastic insight into the current shale oil boom going on here in the U.S.

This guy is also a highly paid consultant and gives guidance on where fuel prices are headed.

He is the editor and chief guru for the Bakken Oil Business Journal.

His name is Bob van der Valk, and you can actually listen to all his guidance and the interview that I did.
Yes, I finally have published my first podcast episode, and I’m giving you backstage access before I post it on my website.

I interviewed Bob on topics like the next big oil play (hint: it’s in California of all places). We also talked about how to work your way into the oil business.

He talked about where fuel prices are headed in late 2013, and many other topics that will be interesting to you.

Here is the link to the interview:
If you go there, you can click on the title and the podcast should autoplay. Or you can hit the download link on that page.

Oh yeah, by the way it’s complimentary. I don’t even sell anything (yet) on the podcast.
It should also be listed on iTunes soon, if you want to go there and search for “oil boom” podcast.

Anyway, this interview was a real gem, and I wanted you to get first “dibs” on it.

Thank you,
Brandon DeShaw, PE
Lab Director
Global Energy Laboratories
200 Technology Way
Butte, MT

Bismarck, N.D. – The North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) will host the Oil Can! Community Day on Monday, Sept. 16 during its Annual Meeting at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. The Community Day will include two Bakken Basics Education Sessions, a barbecue, activities for kids, and access to the NDPC Members-Only Showcase.

“We are able to host educational sessions about the oil and gas industry in western North Dakota throughout the year through our Bakken Rocks CookFests and other events, but many residents in the eastern half of the state haven’t had the opportunity to attend these kinds of events,” said Tessa Sandstrom, NDPC communications manager. “By holding our Annual Meeting in Grand Forks, we are bringing the Bakken east and giving residents of the Red River Valley the chance to learn more about the Bakken and ask industry experts about oil and gas development in North Dakota.”

The Bakken Basics Education Sessions are scheduled for 2:30-4 p.m. and 4-5:30 p.m. and will include talks by Ron Ness, president of the NDPC; Lynn Helms, director for the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources; and Kathy Neset, president of Neset Consulting Service. A community barbecue featuring smoked pulled pork, smoked sausage and BBQ chicken, courtesy of Halliburton, will follow the educational sessions and go until 7:30 p.m. NDPC member exhibits and activities for kids, including a face painter, balloon artist and bounce house and slide will be open from 3-7:30 p.m. Exhibitors include Grand Forks businesses, as well as leading oil and gas producers and service companies operating in the Bakken. A pumping unit, workover rig, wireline truck, crane and ONEOK’s Natural Gas Mobile Museum will also be on display.

The Oil Can! Community Day is free and open to the public. For more information, visit

The NDPC Annual Meeting will run from Monday, Sept. 16 to Wednesday, Sept. 18, and will feature a keynote address from legendary Notre Dame coach, Lou Holtz. An agenda and costs for attending the full meeting are available at Members of the media wishing to attend may contact Tessa Sandstrom at or 701-557-7744.

Since 1952, the Petroleum Council has been the primary voice of the oil and gas industry in North Dakota. The Petroleum Council represents more than 420 companies involved in all aspects of the oil and gas industry, including oil and gas production, refining, pipeline, mineral leasing, consulting, legal work, and oil field service activities in North Dakota, South Dakota, and the Rocky Mountain Region. Our members produced 98% of the 243 million barrels of oil produced in North Dakota last year. For more information, go to

BISMARCK, ND – The North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) today announced that legendary Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz will provide a keynote address during the NDPC’s Annual Meeting to be held Wednesday, Sept. 18 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, ND. Holtz took his Notre Dame teams to nine straight New Year’s Day bowl games from 1987 through 1995 and remains 11th on the NCAA all-time win list for Division I-A coaches.

“The petroleum industry has had incredible success in helping our economy and our country, and I am delighted to be joining the North Dakota Petroleum Council and its members in Grand Forks,” said Holtz. “There are a great deal of similarities between being a coach and one of the many industry leaders who have seized this tremendous opportunity to help move our state and nation forward. Just as on the athletic field, the ability of leaders to adapt, find solutions for evolving challenges and issues, and capitalize on opportunities makes for a winning proposition.”

“We are excited to have a legend like Coach Holtz join us at our 32nd Annual Meeting,” said Ron Ness, president of the NDPC. “Coach Holtz’s record as a coach demonstrates his ability to motivate others, and there is no doubt his talk will be an inspiration for our attendees and the leaders of our state and the industry.”

Also joining Holtz as a featured speaker at the Annual Meeting will be Statoil’s General Manager of North America, Bill Maloney; Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s CEO Matt Rose; and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

In addition to the business meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 18, this year’s Annual Meeting will feature a Community Education Day and BBQ on Sept. 16. The event will be free and open to the public and will include two Bakken Basics Education sessions, which will be held from 2:30-4 p.m. and 4-5:30 p.m. in Ballrooms 4 and 5 in the Alerus Center. A free BBQ will be held from 5-7:30 p.m. and the community is invited to attend and visit the Members Only Showcase, which will be open from 3:30-7:30 p.m.

“We are excited to take our Annual Meeting to Grand Forks this year and showcase the support, products and services that many of the businesses in the Red River Valley provide for the Bakken,” said Terry Kovacevich, NDPC chairman and regional vice president for Marathon Oil. “Many business leaders in eastern North Dakota have capitalized on the opportunities provided by the petroleum industry in western North Dakota, which has created jobs and helped the economies of communities from Pembina to Wahpeton.”

NDPC members will also have an opportunity to showcase their products and services during a Members Only Showcase to be held for Annual Meeting attendees on Tuesday, Sept. 17. For a full schedule and agenda of speakers, visit 

Since 1952, the Petroleum Council has been the primary voice of the oil and gas industry in North Dakota. The Petroleum Council represents more than 420 companies involved in all aspects of the oil and gas industry, including oil and gas production, refining, pipeline, mineral leasing, consulting, legal work, and oil field service activities in North Dakota, South Dakota, and the Rocky Mountain Region. Our members produced 98% of the 243 million barrels of oil produced in North Dakota last year.  For more information, go to

(HELENA)—Attorney General Tim Fox announced today that Montana has joined nine other western states protesting the sequestration of state funds under the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA).  In a bi-partisan letter to President Barack Obama, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, members of the Conference of Western Attorneys General strongly objected to the loss of revenue, which is statutorily guaranteed to the states.

The Interior Department’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue notified states in March that it would withhold payments from March through July, and possibly August and September, saying the move was required by the 5.1% across-the-board sequestration cuts.  More than half of the  states receive mineral royalties, with western states relying heavily on this revenue because of the disproportionate amount of federal land with valuable minerals located in western states.

The MLA entitles states to 48% of all revenue collected by the federal government for mineral activity on federal lands within state boundaries.  Montana stands to lose nearly $2.4 million in revenue per year based on FY 2012 figures.  “The federal government can’t simply seize Montana’s money to cover its budget shortfalls and out-of-control spending,” said Attorney General Fox.  “Washington needs to balance the federal budget by cutting spending, not by taking money from the states that produce our mineral wealth and without regard for the principles of federalism.”

One-quarter of the sequestered funds were to be paid to the counties in which they were raised; three-quarters of the revenue would go to the State’s general fund.  “Counties typically rely on MLA-generated dollars to help meet their infrastructure needs,” said Harold Blattie, Executive Director of the Montana Association of Counties.  “The funds being sequestered represent over $600,000 that counties use to fund essential services like roads, bridges, building improvements, equipment and vehicles.  This is money Montana counties can ill-afford to lose.”

The ten Attorneys General point out that MLA payments are not subject to sequester for a number of reasons:  First, while mineral royalty payments make a stop in the federal treasury before being returned to the states, that does not convert the royalties into federal money or give the federal government any discretion to decide whether or how much money to return to the states under the MLA.

Second, because the only payments going to the states under the MLA come directly from mineral development in those states, it is an entirely self-sustaining revenue source.  Thus, it is not possible that such payments could be subject to sequestration.

Finally, if payments under the MLA can be deemed an appropriation or expenditure, the Attorneys General argue that the Office of Management and Budget should exempt them from sequestration like many other programs important to economic recovery.

Read the letter here:


North Dakota Director’s Cut Newsletter –Bakken Oil Business Journal Report

Photo by Rio Good

North Dakota’s total crude production in May rose to 810,129 barrels per day (bp/d), surpassing the 800,000-bp/d mark for the first time, according to the North Dakota Industrial Commission Lynn Helms’ Director’s Cut Newsletter of July 15, 2013.

May crude output was 2% higher than April 2013 and 26.7% above the corresponding month in 2012. The Bakken crude output makes up more than 90% of North Dakota’s total oil production.

The higher May output was boosted by a higher number of oil wells in production with the number of producing wells in May rising to 1,333 from 1,309.  North Dakota is the second largest oil producing state in the US with Texas at #1 and Alaska in third place..

Following is the complete North Dakota NDIC Director’s Cut Newsletter:

North Dakota’s total crude production in May rose to 810,129 barrels per day (bp/d), surpassing the 800,000 bp/d mark for the first time, according to the North Dakota Industrial Commission Lynn Helms’ Director’s Cut Newsletter of July 15, 2013.

May crude output was 2% higher than April 2013 and 26.7% above the corresponding month in 2012. The Bakken crude output makes up more than 90% of North Dakota’s total oil production.

The higher May output was boosted by a higher number of oil wells in production with the number of producing wells in May rising to 1,333 from 1,309.

7/15/2013 North Dakota Director’s Cut – by Lynn Helms, NDIC Department of Mineral Resources

Apr Oil 23,815,546 barrels = 793,852 barrels/day

May Oil 25,114,011 barrels = 810,129 barrels/day (preliminary)(NEW all-time high)

Apr Gas 25,835,802 MCF = 861,193 MCF/day

May Gas 27,899,280 MCF = 899,977 MCF/day (preliminary)(NEW all-time high)

Apr Producing Wells = 8,772

May Producing Wells = 8,915 (preliminary)(NEW all-time high

Apr Permitting: 202 drilling and 0 seismic

May Permitting: 211 drilling and 0 seismic

Jun Permitting: 165 drilling and 0 seismic (all time high was 370 in Oct 2012)

Apr Sweet Crude Price = $87.85/barrel

May Sweet Crude Price = $87.94/barrel

Jun Sweet Crude Price = $85.79/barrel

Today Sweet Crude Price = $97.00/barrel (all-time high was $136.29 July 3, 2008

Apr rig count 186

May rig count 187

Jun rig count 187

Today’s rig count is 186 (all-time high was 218 on May 29, 2012)


The drilling rig count rose by only one from April to May, but the number of well completions rose by 10 to 143. That number of completions is above the threshold needed to maintain production so oil production rate rose, up 2.1% from April. However, the drilling rigs continue to outpace completion crews. The average number of days to drill a well from spud to total depth is at just under 22, but the average number of days from total depth to initial production has increased to 92. Load restrictions have remained in place longer than ever before because May 2013 was the wettest on record. Uncertainty surrounding federal policies on taxation and hydraulic fracturing regulation continue to make investors nervous. Pressure on the federal budget has led to a budget proposal that eliminates deductions for intangible drilling costs and the depletion allowance.

More than 95% of drilling still targets the Bakken and Three Forks formations.

We estimate that at the end of May there were about 500 wells waiting on completion services, an increase of 10.

Crude oil take away capacity continues to be adequate as long as rail deliveries to the coasts keep growing.

Rig count in the Williston basin is stable. Utilization rate for rigs capable of +20,000 feet is about 90%, and for shallow well rigs (drill to 7,000 feet or less) utilization remains about 60%.

Drilling permit activity was down sharply in May. There is a sufficient permit inventory to accommodate multi-well pads, the inability to construct locations during load restrictions, and the time required to deal with federal hydraulic fracturing rules if required.

The number of rigs actively drilling on federal surface in the Dakota Prairie Grasslands is down one to 2.

The number of rigs drilling on the Fort Berthold Reservation is down 4 to 21 with 6 on fee lands and 15 on trust lands.

There are now 935 active wells (96 on trust lands & 839 on fee lands)

Producing 155,332 barrels of oil per day (5,387 from trust lands & 148,594 from fee lands)

177 wells are waiting on completion

272 approved drilling permits (252 on trust lands & 20 on fee lands)

2,434 additional potential future wells (2,182 on trust lands & 252 on fee lands)

Seismic activity is steady with 4 surveys active/recording, 1 remediating, 1 suspended, and 6 permitted. There are now 4 buried arrays in North Dakota for monitoring and optimizing hydraulic fracturing.

North Dakota leasing activity is very slow, consisting mostly of renewals and top leases in the Bakken – Three Forks area.

US natural gas storage is now 0.8% below the five-year average indicating the price has bottomed, but low prices are still expected for the foreseeable future. Natural gas production increased 4.5% versus the 2.1% increase in oil production. This is consistent with the Bentek study that shows gas oil ratios increasing as wells age. North Dakota shallow gas exploration is not economic at near term gas prices.

Natural gas delivered to Northern Border at Watford City is down $0.31 to $3.20/MCF. This results in a current oil to gas price ratio of 30 to 1, but the high liquids content makes gathering and processing of Bakken gas economic. Additions to gathering and processing capacity are catching up, but the percentage of gas flared remained at 29%. The historical high was 36% in September 2011.

Montana vs. North Dakota, 2012

Number of drilling rigs
Montana: 10
North Dakota: 183
Producing wells
Montana: 4,712
North Dakota: 7,997
Average barrels per day
Montana: 72,600
North Dakota: 768,977
Barrels of oil yearly
Montana: 26.5 million
North Dakota: 242.5 million

Oil production increased 9.5 percent in Montana in 2012, the first time the state’s seen an increase since 2006, with oil activity drove up the state’s payroll by more than $300 million in the the past year.

In 2012, 26.5 million barrels of oil were produced in Big Sky County, compared to 24.2 million in 2011, said Tom Richmond, administrator of the Montana Board of Oil and Gas.

Accounting for the increase were new wells in eastern Roosevelt County and successful “infill” wells drilled in the existing Elm Coulee field near Sidney in Richland County, Richmond said. Elm Coulee is the area where the original successful horizontal wells were drilled in the Bakken formation.

“Production in Roosevelt County is what’s adding a nice increment,” Richmond said.

Sidney Mayor Bret Smelser said the first well drilled in the Bakken in Montana in 2000 was in the Elm Coulee field with 400 wells eventually drilled in western Richland County before moving to North Dakota. Operators there were the first to tap the Bakken formation with what Smelser calls a one-stage, or a “hail Mary” frack, in which hydraulic fracturing was used on the entire length of the lateral section of the well. The first lateral drilled was 400 yards. Today laterals can be up to two miles.

Hydraulic fracturing is method whereby high volumes of water and sand and a chemical mix is pumped into the wells to break up rock and release oil.

Now operators are returning to Elm Coulee to drill new wells and using better technology to do multi-staged “fracks” in the lateral sections, he said.

When a single frack is used, the mix goes to only the weakest rock, Richmond said. In staged fracks, shorter sections of the lateral line are targeted one at a time.

“It is a more efficient way to contact a reservoir with your frack fluid, and it’s a little more controlled,” Richmond said.

Today, Elm Coulee has 840 horizontal wells and 230 vertical wells are producing in the county.

“There’s millionaires out this way,” said Smelser one day earlier this month as he drove through Elm Coulee outside of Sidney, where pump jacks could be seen in every direction.

The city of Sidney even has a piece of the action, owning the mineral rights under city parkland abutting one well that’s recently been drilled near town. If it flows, it’s expected to produce roughly 200 barrels a day, which will generate about $16,000 for the city annually, Smelser said.

Production in Roosevelt, Richland and Fallon counties still accounts for the bulk of oil production in the state, Richmond said.

There were 4,712 producing wells in 2012, up from 4,520 in 2011.

Currently, the state has 10 drill rigs working on the ground. That isn’t particularly high, Richmond said, but good wells are being drilled.

Oil production peaked in the state at about 34 million barrels a year in 2006, Richmond said.

While oil activity is robust in eastern Montana, it’s not an oil “boom” akin to what’s occurring in North Dakota, said Patrick Barkey, director of the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

On average, Montana produced 72,600 barrels a day in 2012 compared to 768,977 in North Dakota.

Montana production is now leveling off but that indicates that new wells are coming on line to replace declining wells, Barkey said.

Oil activity continues to drive up wages in all sectors and the footprint extends beyond the oil field, creating a tremendous amount of service work in communities such as Billings and Glendive, ranging from legal to survey to repair and maintenance, Barkey said.

“What’s really putting the zip into the economy clearly is oil and gas particularly oil and it’s on both sides of the border,” Barkey said.

In the past year, payroll in Montana increased by $300 million, more than Wyoming, South Dakota and even Colorado. The primary engine for that growth was oil activity, Barkey said.

Five smaller eastern Montana counties bordering North Dakota outpaced most of the rest of the state in wage growth including larger counties such as Yellowstone, Gallatin, Missoula and Cascade, according to the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

Roosevelt County, for instance, saw a payroll increase of 6.7 percent in the past year, and Richland County, 9.4 percent. Cascade County’s total payroll declined by 0.9 percent in the past year.

The oil field work also has driven up wages in other sectors, Barkey said.

In Richland County, inflation-corrected wages per worker in all fields increased from $28,400 in 2002 to $44,330 in 2011. Salaries of food service workers in Richland County jumped from $8,900 in 2002, which was 75 percent of the state average, to $13,200 in 2011, which is just more than 100 percent of the state average.

Wage growth is even more amazing in North Dakota, where the state’s payroll increased by $2 billion in the last year.

“It’s becoming pretty clear to me that this Bakken oil development, we’re not likely to see another event like this in our lifetime,” Barkey says.

In April, the U.S. Geological Survey released a report updating a previous assessment of the Bakken Formation and providing the first governmental assessment of the Three Forks Formation.

The estimate in the newly released report doubled the estimated resource from a 2008 USGS assessment. The new report maintained the estimate of 3.65 billion barrels of recoverable oil and added an addition 3.73 barrels of recoverable oil from the underlying Three Forks Formation. The Bakken Formation includes western North Dakota and eastern Montana.

Of the total estimate of 7.3 billion barrels, 5.7 billion barrels are believed to be in North Dakota and 1.6 in Montana.

“That says from a resource point of view, production and for that matter drilling could go on for quite a while if the economics support it,” Barkey said.

Retrieved May 6, 2013  •  By PIPER HAUGAN Montana Standard
BUTTE — In former Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s words, the Bakken oil formation in Eastern Montana and North Dakota is “a millionaire maker.’’

Schweitzer, speaking at a conference at Highlands College on Friday, focused his talk on the demand for solid Main Street businesses in that area.

The conference, called “Tapping Opportunity in the Bakken,” highlighted the status of the Bakken oil field and the challenges of doing business in the area. Schweitzer joined a host of speakers.

Schweitzer’s speech was full of his usual humor — “Why would you call something good a frack?” he asked, regarding the controversial method of extracting oil and gas that he supports.

A soil scientist, Schweitzer told the audience that one doesn’t have to be in the oil business to profit off of the boom in Eastern Montana. There are many other demands — with infrastructure like sewers and roads in need for repair, a desperate shortage of housing and visitors’ accommodations and the need for other basic necessities like transportation and food.

“If you know anything about anything … if you’re good at it, you’ll make money in the Bakken,” he said.

He pointed out that oil companies in the Bakken spend $750 million a year on sand alone for their fracking operations. At the selling rate of $80 to $160 a ton, people – Montanans –could make money simply by selling sand, he said.

He also said with issues over water rights, it’s “going to take a bunch of lawyers out there to get it sorted out.”

He said the Bakken is not going to be a boom-bust region, but will continue to thrive.

“Whatever you study, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “If you go to the Bakken, you’re going to hit home runs.”

By:  Bob van der Valk

Bakken crude oil production in North Dakota was up back up in February to a record 779,000 barrels a day. “The record likely will be shattered repeatedly this summer”, said Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, ” A dozen more rigs have been added to the arsenal drilling in the state” .

Helms forecasted, during his press briefing in Bismarck, ND on April 16, 2013, these numbers to go even higher in the summer and said: “Those middle five months of the year will see a big surge in production,” Crude oil production took a hit in the months of November 2012 thru January 2013 due to the extreme harsh weather conditions during those months shutting down most new drilling activity.

The Tale of the Tape:

New all-time high for production: 778,176 barrels per day — compared to February 2012: 737,787 barrels per day. That’s a five percent increase.

The number of producing wells is also at a new all-time high: 8,492


  • March:     218
  • February: 185
  • January:   218


The number of completions is well above the threshold needed to maintain production so oil production rate rose sharply, up 5.6%. The number of well completions doubled in February, over January, to 170.

The NDIC estimates that at the end of January there were about 375 wells waiting on completion.

Link: the Director’s Cut at the NDIC home page

URTeC, 12-14 August 2013 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver

With the soon-to-hit-the-streets April issue of the Bakken Oil Business Journal, reports on oil and gas exploration from Fairfield Sun Times’ Publisher Darryl L. Flowers will occasionally appear in the magazine, which is based in Livingston, Montana.

“We’re pleased to have Darryl joining our list of contributors,” said Journal Publisher Mary Edwards. “Darryl’s way of presenting the complexities of oil and gas exploration in an easy to read manner will be a welcome addition.”

“It’s quite an honor to be published in such a prestigious publication,” said Flowers, who has owned the Sun Times since 2008. “Moving forward, I hope to not only contribute stories from the Sun Times, but to develop stories specifically for the Bakken Oil Business Journal.”

The Bakken Oil Business Journal, a bi-monthly magazine, is distributed by direct mail to companies and businesses operating in the Bakken region and is hand-delivered at top energy shows related to the Bakken Oil Play.

The Sun Times, celebrating a century of reporting in NW Montana, actually has a long history of oil and gas reporting under its belt. “Our oldest copy on file, from the early twenties, tells the story of some Fairfield residents who travelled to Bynum to witness the drilling, by bucket, of an oil well,” said Flowers.

Since 2011, the Sun Times has been reporting permitting activity as well as reports from the “oil patch.” It was the first Montana newspaper to report on the permitting status of all oil and gas wells in the state. Recently, the Sun Times was the first to report that Anschutz Exploration was ceasing exploration operations on the Blackfeet Reservation in Glacier County.

More information on the  Bakken Oil Business Journal can be found at You can catch current and past issues of the Journal online, optimized for mobile and tablet, at

Retrieved 4-25-2013. Fairfield Sun Times.

By: Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service

BISMARCK – Oil companies operating in North Dakota are keeping the brakes on this spring, but a “big surge in production” is expected this summer and fall, the director of the Department of Mineral Resources said Tuesday.

Lynn Helms said he expects the drilling rig count will increase from today’s count of 186 to 198 this summer, bringing as many as 2,000 more workers to Oil Patch communities.

Helms said he expects winter weather and spring road restrictions will continue affecting oil production for a few more months.

“It is going to be May, maybe even June, before production seriously gets underway,” Helms said.

Oil production rose 5.6 percent in February to 778,971 barrels per day, according to preliminary figures Helms released Tuesday.

The figure represents a new all-time high for North Dakota, but Helms said the increase was more modest than what he had projected.

“It’s still difficult to operate an oilfield and drill and frac wells in February, even a good February in North Dakota,” Helms said.

The department expects that winter storms will affect oil production in March and April. Helms projects it will take until May before the state hits 800,000 barrels per day.

“They’re keeping the brakes on as they ramp up a little bit this summer,” Helms said.

But once conditions improve, companies are expected to continue increasing their efficiency and drill more wells in less time.

Helms said the industry is proposing more multi-well pads, with seven wells on one location being the most popular number.

“It’s a positive thing because it decreases the footprint, increases the production and allows us to recover more of the Bakken and Three Forks oil,” Helms said.

One location in North Dakota has 14 wells that have been drilled. Helms said he’s signed three orders approving 18 wells on one location and he knows of two proposals that will come before him requesting to drill 24-well pads.

Flaring of natural gas rose about 1 percent in February to 30.4 percent, the second month in a row with an increase. The high was 36 percent in September 2011.

However, there has been huge improvement in the average number of days a well flares, Helms said. In 2007, a typical well flared for 380 days. In 2011, the average was 172 days and in 2012 the average was 51 days, Helms said.

Helms said he anticipates more progress will be made on reducing flaring this summer.