Winter Storm Cuts North Dakota's Shale Oil Production

(Reuters) — A winter blizzard sweeping across the northern United States has cut North Dakota's oil output by 200,000 to 250,000 barrels per day, or 18% to 22%, state Pipeline Authority Director Justin Kringstad estimated on Friday.

A winter storm pounded the heart of the United States, bringing heavy snow and freezing rain to Northern Plains and Midwestern states. Oil and gas wells suffer freeze-ins when temperatures drop.

Kringstad said in an emailed statement that he anticipates a relatively quick return of oil production over the next several days as visibility improves and roads are cleared, adding that there were some limited, localized power issues.

Major oil and gas processing plants and pipelines have remained operational to the best of his knowledge, he said, adding that most roads remain closed.

North Dakota, the third-largest U.S. oil-producing state after Texas and New Mexico, pumps about 1.1 million barrels of oil per day. In April, it suffered the loss of about 80% of production temporarily from severe weather.

Bryan Sheffield, founder of energy fund Formentera Partners, which has assets in the state, estimated based on conversations with pipeline operators that production is down about 20%. Output is likely to be restored over the weekend, he added.

The storm will delay drilling and completion activities, said Nathan Nemeth, a senior analyst at consultants Wood Mackenzie.

"We certainly expect a slowdown of rigs and activity for a few days, but that's typical business operations in the Bakken during winter months," said North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness.

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