OREANDA-NEWS. Natural gas output in North Dakota likely reached a record high in November, topping October output amid higher gas capture and as producers increased drilling activity on steady oil and gas prices.

"Looking at Bakken gas flow data shows that gas production did reach a new peak record in November after the Alliance [pipeline] outage," BTU Analytics senior energy analyst Erika Coombs said.

Gas production in October rose to a record 1.72 Bcf/d (49mn m?/d) tracking higher crude oil production, despite increased gas flaring, according to most recent data from the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources. Official November production data from the state agency should be released in January.

Nearly all of the gas produced in North Dakota comes from the state's oil wells and 98pc of the states' drilling activity was on Bakken and Three Forks formation in October. Production of oil in October rose by 7.4pc from September amid high prices. The prompt-month Nymex crude futures contract in November averaged at $45.75/bl, up 6pc from November 2015 while the prompt-month Nymex gas futures contract averaged $2.86/mmBtu, up 25pc from a year before.

But some producers in October had to flare a significant amount of gas because of a major interstate natural gas pipeline outage. Alliance pipeline had to shut its entire system across the US and Canada on 12-19 October for installation of a heavier wall pipeline in connection with the construction of the Regina South Bypass project near Regina, Saskatchewan. As a result statewide gas flaring increased to 14.6pc in October, up from 11.9pc in September. Some producers in Fort Berthold had to flare 41pc of their gas, according to department director Lynn Helms. The gas flaring rate this year fell as low as 9.2pc in April, according to the state agency.

Gas production should increase in November as gas flaring falls back to levels seen in earlier months and amid increased drilling activity on higher oil and gas prices. Output may decline in December because of harsh winter conditions that make hydraulic fracturing difficult and more expensive.

The state's drilling rig count rose in November to 37 units, up by 4 from October. Operators are shifting from running the minimum number of rigs to incremental increases throughout 2017, as long as oil prices remain between $50/bl and $60/bl, according to Helms.