Bakken May crude oil output up 5 percent from April

Crude oil production in the Bakken rose almost 5 percent from April’s output. The number of producing oil wells went up more than 3 percent. There are almost 7,000 producing oil wells in western North Dakota, which is almost twice as many wells as it had five years ago, and crude oil production has increased five fold.

Meanwhile a dispute between Canadian pipeline Enbridge Energy LP and Saddle Butte Pipeline is brewing into what could become a political showdown between the two countries over whether Bakken oil production will be squeezed out by Canadian oil sands crude oil flowing from across the northern border.

The subsidiary of Saddle Butte – High Prairie Pipelines LLC is accusing Enbridge of denying its request to directly link a proposed 450-mile pipeline from the booming Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and Eastern Montana to a highway of pipelines currently feeding crude oil to Midwest East Coast refineries.

Saddle Butte is attempting to connect its High Prairie Pipeline to Enbridge at Clearbrook, MN. However, Enbridge Energy has so far refused to allow a pipeline interconnection by High Prairie Pipeline at its facility in Clearbrook, MN.

Even though oil prices have been falling, North Dakota’s crude oil production has been continuing to increase. The ND Department of Mineral Resources reported oil producers pumped an average of 639,000 barrels of oil each day in May 2012 or almost 20 million barrels of crude oil for the month.

Currently most the Bakken crude oil is being hauled to refineries and the Cushing, OK hub by rail car. The Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline is about two years away from being completed from Alberta, Canada to Cushing, OK. The permit for construction and operating the southern leg of the KXL from Cushing to the Gulf Coast has now been approved by the state agencies involved and is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

Bob van der Valk is a petroleum industry analyst working and living in Terry, Montana. He can be contacted at (406) 853-4251 or e-mail:

His viewpoints about the petroleum industry are posted on his web page at:

Some data in the above article was obtained from E & E Publishing as well as Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) at

Photo courtesy of Travis W. Cooksey

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