Burgum highlights oil industry’s progress, challenges at ND Petroleum Council’s annual meeting in Fargo

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 2:30pm

FARGO, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today highlighted the innovation, technology and investment driving a resurgence in North Dakota’s oil industry during the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s annual meeting in Fargo.

Burgum noted that since he and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford challenged the industry last year to boost oil production to 2 million barrels per day, daily output has increased by nearly 230,000 barrels, from 1.04 million barrels per day in May 2017 to a record 1.27 million barrels per day in July 2018. Burgum commended the industry for embracing innovation, advancing technology and finding efficiencies to increase production.

North Dakota’s oil production would be even higher if not for the constraints of a workforce shortage and lack of infrastructure for capturing and processing natural gas, a byproduct of oil production, Burgum said. He encouraged private-sector investment, partnerships and input to address the challenges, while also highlighting the administration’s Main Street Initiative and efforts by the Workforce Development Council to tackle the workforce shortage. The state had nearly 14,500 job openings listed with Job Service North Dakota in August, and Burgum estimated there may be twice that many openings statewide when including unlisted openings.

“We have to have net in-migration of families and workers for us to fill those jobs, otherwise we’re going to have this workforce constraint,” Burgum told members of the industry group. “So, we have to be in the business of building great communities as well as creating the great jobs that all of you have created.”

The governor also cited recent actions by the North Dakota Industrial Commission to partner with industry to try to prevent pipeline spills and address natural gas abundance. The Commission approved $140,000 last week to evaluate the potential for injecting excess natural gas back into the ground and retrieving it later. In May, the Commission approved a $1.6 million grant for the intelligent Pipeline Integrity Program, or iPIPE, to fund research and development with private industry partners on new technologies to prevent and detect pipeline leaks – a direct response to the governor’s challenge last year to eliminate spills.

Burgum emphasized the need for value-added uses of the state’s abundant natural gas resources, reiterating the administration’s mantra of “Innovation, not regulation” as the state continues to strengthen its position as the nation’s No. 2 oil-producing state.

“I believe most of the problems that we try to regulate out of the way, we can innovate out of the way,” Burgum said.