North Dakota Ousts Alaska as Second-Largest Oil Producer3 min read

When it comes to domestic oil production there’s a new “Number Two” in town and the honor goes to North Dakota. They’ve proudly kicked Alaska out of this position. And Texas? The Lone Star State is safe for now as the US’ top oil producer, but they’d better watch out; North Dakota is on the roll!

In March 2012, oil producers in North Dakota pumped 17.8 million barrels while their counterparts up in Alaska hit 17.5 million barrels—and it doesn’t look like Alaska is in a position to reverse the trend and reclaim its number as ‘#2’.

A state-funded research study predicts that by 2025, North Dakota oil production could top 2 million barrels a day. That would put its monthly figure above 60 million barrels. Compare this to the meager 3,000 barrels a day that the state was producing in 2005.

Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay is going the other direction. That oil field hit its peak daily production mark back in 1989 when it was pumping out more than 2 million barrels a day. In comparison, its March 2012 averages was just 567,480 barrels a day.

And while additional production in Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas may come online, those are in Federal waters and won’t go towards the state’s totals, nor will Alaskan coffers get any direct revenue from that oil.

Texas Still Number One
Texas isn’t in any immediate danger of slipping from its lofty spot as the country’s biggest oil producing state. The Lone Star State pumped out 1.47 million barrels a day on average all through 2011. Further, Texas may increase its production fairly soon by cashing in on a huge oil shale formation similar to the one that’s fueling the boom in North Dakota.

In North Dakota it’s the Bakken shale and Three Forks formations underneath it that are paying off big time for the state and the oil industry. The area stretches across Canada’s Saskatchewan Province, northeast Montana and into western North Dakota.

It’s Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas that’s expected to push that state’s production up even further. Even by 2011 the area was producing some 300,000 barrels per day, helping to bump overall Texas production to an average of 1.47 millions barrels a day in 2011.

Workforce Grows
The economic impact in North Dakota has been huge. The direct oil workforce amounted to only about 5,000 people back in 2005. It jumped above 18,000 in 2009 and in 2011 the figure was 30,000. If production manages to climb to a million barrels a day, the industry could employ more than 100,000 workers. That’s impress for a state with a population of only 700,000!

Housing Shortage
While the booming economy has brought jobs to many Americans, it’s also leaving the workforce virtually homeless in some locations. Contractors can’t build housing fast enough for the demand. In Minot, North Dakota construction workers are building residences at an unheard of rate, but the city says there are still few available housing options. Last summer, the housing shortage wasn’t helped by flood waters damaging 1000’s of Minot homes.

Even if there is housing available, prices can be sky-high. In Tiago, paying $1,200 per month for a 2 bedroom apartment is not unusual.


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Carrie is a country girl living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. When not working for her family's internet marketing firm, RYP Marketing, you can find Carrie reading, hiking, biking, shooting at the range or catching up on the latest news. You can contact Carrie via email at

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