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Regulators: North Dakota produced record 35 million barrels of oil in August

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WILLISTON, North Dakota — North Dakota produced a record 35 million barrels of oil in August, according to figures released Wednesday by the state's Industrial Commission.

August also marked the Bakken oil formation's one billionth barrel of production in North Dakota, the report said.

Oil production rose from 1,114,421 barrels per day in July to 1,132,331 barrels per day in August. There is a two-month lag time on production figures.

The rise in production was held up slightly by oil producers focusing on work to comply with new natural gas flaring regulations, Industrial Commission Oil and Gas Division Director Lynn Helms said in a briefing Wednesday.

Natural gas is a valuable byproduct of oil production, but without infrastructure to capture it, it is often burned off. New flaring regulations that went into effect Oct. 1 require companies to flare no more than 26 percent of gas. Failure to comply could lead to state-imposed production limitations on violators.

August's statewide flaring rate hit 27 percent, up a percentage point from July. At times, the flaring rate has been as high as 36 percent.

Helms said the flaring rate on Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, which produces roughly a third of North Dakota's oil, has boosted the state's rate. The reservation flared gas from Bakken oil formation wells in August at a rate of 35.5 percent.

"That is going to be an ongoing issue," Helms said, adding that the state hopes to work with the reservation's tribes to increase gas capture but doesn't anticipate progress until the Nov. 4 election decides a new leader for the tribes.

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