A Leader in Energy Security

The oil and natural gas found right here in North Dakota is getting us closer to energy independence, allowing the U.S. to lessen dependence on foreign energy sources. North Dakota produces on average about 1.07 million barrels of oil per day in 2022, making it the number three oil producer in the U.S. behind only Texas and New Mexico.

North Dakota’s rise as a leader in oil production has helped the country as a whole become the world’s No. 1 producer in both oil and natural gas, strengthening the nation’s energy security. In fact, for the first time since at least 1949, the U.S.  became a net exporter. In 2020, annual petroleum net imports were actually negative (at -0.65 MMb/d), the first time this occurred since at least 1949.

Energy security also allows an additional $400 billion to stay in the U.S. economy each year.


North Dakota Production at a Glance





How does North Dakota's production compare on a global scale?

Through 2021, the United States was the world's largest oil producer, and Texas alone would rank as the fourth largest producer in the world while North Dakota ranked in the top 20 world producers.

This graph shows just how important North Dakota is to our nation's energy security.


(including lease condensate)

Ranking Country Barrels Per Day
1 United States        11,254,000
2 Russia          10,112,000
3 Saudi Arabia          9,313,000
Texas          4,766,000
4 Canada          4,439,000
5 Iraq          4,085,000
6 China          3,988,000
7 Iran          3,110,000
8 United Arab Emirates          3,091,000
9 Brazil         2,905,000
10 Kuwait          2,527,000
11 Norway          1,776,000
12 Kazakhstan          1,761,000
13 Norway          1,713,045
14 Mexico          1,734,000
Gulf Offshore          1,707,000
15 Qatar          1,304,000
New Mexico 1,253,000
16 Libya          1,238,000
Ranking Country Barrels Per Day
17 Algeria      1,134,000
18 Angola     1,127,000
North Dakota    1,110,000
19 Oman         971,000
20 United Kingdom        809,000
21 Colombia         736,000
22 Azerbaijan          711,000
23 Indonesia         659,000
24 India         611,000
25 Venezuela         595,000
26 Egypt         561,000
27 Malaysia          511,000
28 Argentina        507,000
29 Ecuador          473,000
Alaska           437,000
Colorado          420,000
Oklahoma          392,000
California           369,000
30 Australia           334,000

Frequently Asked Questions About the Current Energy Crisis

What’s going on with gas prices?

The short of it: There are several factors that impact the price of gasoline at the pump, including the grade of oil produced (light, sweet vs heavy, sour); transportation costs; refining costs; distribution and marketing; and, taxes.[1] Ultimately, the largest of those factors is global supply and demand of crude oil. Crude oil is a commodity that is traded on a global scale, and events, weather, politics, and economics in nations throughout the world can all have an impact on the price of crude produced right here at home. That is the largest factor driving the price of crude oil up, which, in turn, increases the cost of gasoline prices at the pump.


Crude oil is a commodity that is traded on a global scale, and events, weather, politics, and economics in nations throughout the world can all have an impact on the price of crude produced right here at home. There are about 100 countries that produce crude oil, but according to the Energy Information Administration, five countries accounted for 50% of the world’s total oil production in 2020. Those countries included the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Canada.[1]

Oil producers in the U.S. and Canada are largely made up of private or investor-owned companies and their ability to produce is largely driven by financial markets and the ability to make a profit from their investment. If they cannot make a profit or at least make enough money to cover their expenses (employees, costs of drilling, etc.), they cannot invest in additional exploration and development. Countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, however, have national oil companies (NOCs), or companies that operate as extensions of their government or a government agency. Their objectives are not always market-oriented and their incentive to produce more or less oil may depend on other goals that include but are not limited to furthering their government’s domestic or foreign policies, controlling or influencing oil prices to generate revenues for their countries or government programs, and employing citizens, among others.

The higher the demand for a product, the higher the cost until supply can catch up. The oil industry, like any other industry, seeks to find a balance between supply and demand to help create stable prices for them and the consumer. The past few years, however, have presented unprecedented challenges that have lent uncertainty to global markets.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic caused demand to plummet as travel restrictions kept people at home and business activity and manufacturing slowed to a stand-still. On April 20, 2020, crude oil prices fell to minus $37 per barrel for the first time in history due to oversupply and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

As travel restrictions began to ease and businesses and countries opened up once again, demand slowly began to rise and supply rose with it, but the current turmoil in Ukraine has caused demand and prices to rise faster than expected and are now above $100 per barrel compared to the -$37 just two years ago.

It’s also important to make a distinction between oil production and refining. Most oil producers don’t refine the crude they produce into gasoline, but rather sell their product to a midstream company, which then sells it to a refiner. A comparison that many of us in North Dakota can relate to is agriculture. Farmers don’t process (or refine) their crop into pasta, bread or other products. Rather, they sell it to an elevator that then sells it to a company that will use the crop to make any number of products (bread, pasta, oil, feedstock, etc.). That company then sells the product to us—the consumer.

In the same way, the oil producer will sell their products to a midstream company that will then refine the product into gasoline, diesel fuel, butane, propane, polypropylene (used to make plastics), or other feedstocks. A company will buy those feedstocks to then make their product, which includes more than 6,000 different products ranging from plastic toys, chemicals for paint, and even guaiacol, which is used to make imitation vanilla used for cooking and baking. Those products are then sold to consumers. Each stage adds costs that affect the end price of the product.



How does U.S. oil production help global oil prices?

The short of it: U.S. oil production can help overall crude prices by adding more supply to the global market to meet the demand. We’ve seen the result of that over the past decade when technology and innovation helped unlock vast resources of crude oil. The U.S. went from being a net importer of oil, often relying on countries for crude oil, to being a net exporter. By 2018, the U.S. had become the largest oil and natural gas producer in the nation, helping increase our energy security and that of our allies. This past year, however, federal restrictions, decreased demand, and poor economics forced U.S. producers to reduce their output and it can take time to ramp up production.


For many years, the U.S. was reliant on other countries for crude oil resources—countries that do not share the same values and would often seek to do us harm. Thanks to technology and innovation, the U.S. was able to produce more energy from within our borders and have helped increase our energy security. In fact, for the first time since at least 1949, the U.S.  became a net exporter. In 2020, annual petroleum net imports were actually negative (at -0.65 MMb/d), the first time this occurred since at least 1949.[1]

However, because oil production in the U.S. is done primarily by private companies, our industry is more sensitive to economics and pricing. Other countries, particularly those that fall under the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, have national oil companies (NOCs), or companies that operate as extensions of their government or a government agency. Often, these countries use their energy resource as a means of influencing the price of oil or even influencing foreign policy, which can—and has—resulted in drastic price swings in the global market.



Why aren’t U.S. producers increasing production then?

U.S. oil production is undertaken primarily by companies that are under obligation and pressure to operate within budgets that are set at least a year in advance and meet the objectives of investors and shareholders, which includes hundreds of thousands of Americans (i.e. almost anyone who has a 401k or other investment accounts). If a company can’t meet its financial obligations, it ultimately could go out of business.

There are also several other factors that influence when, where, and how a company can develop our petroleum resources. Exploration and development is an expensive process that requires a large amount of investment, and they must often rely on capital from banks and other investors. Regulations also play a large part in oil and gas development. Federal and state regulations can hinder or even prohibit oil and gas development, making it even more expensive or impossible to develop resources. Even one drilling rig and well requires hundreds of trained and qualified workers. All factors add to the amount of time, planning, and training needed to ramp up activity. And finally, oil producers need infrastructure to get their products to market.

What will it take for the U.S. to ramp up its production again?

The short of it: In one word: Certainty. Oil and gas development is a complex process and requires many things for a company to increase production, but they all have one thing in common, and that is certainty.

Anyone who is going to invest in a large undertaking, whether they are building a house, or deciding to drill an oil will want and crave certainty. They need to be certain they have the money or investment to pay for that undertaking. They want certainty that the permitting will come through, and they need certainty that they will have the workforce to complete the task. In turn, workers will want to be sure that they will have a job in the long term to provide for their families, pay their bills and pay for their education or training.


Oil and gas development is a complex process and requires many things for a company to increase production.

A sound (and predictable) regulatory framework:

The industry needs a sound and predictable regulatory framework that will provide certainty while also protecting our communities and environment. North Dakota is fortunate to have one in place, but producers here are still impacted by decisions made in other states and at the national level. Federal policies have added many new restrictions and regulations that slow or stop the process of oil and gas development. Some ways that the federal government can help is to allow more and faster permitting for new wells, maintain reasonable regulations on operation, and allow for the permitting and construction of new pipelines to help get petroleum to market.



In recent years, activists have pressured banks and investors into reducing or even stopping investment in traditional energy resources such as coal, oil and natural gas. As a result, there is a lack of capital and often desire from banking institutions and Wall Street to invest in the exploration and development of petroleum. Developing energy resources is an expensive undertaking, and without access to capital, ramping up production is difficult.



Oil and natural gas development often takes place in remote areas and must be transported to population centers where refining and processing plants are located. That product also needs infrastructure to get the product to market and consumers.

The U.S. has more than 190,000 miles of liquid petroleum pipelines that connect producing areas to refineries and chemical plants. But, more is needed. While North Dakota has been an oil-producing state since 1952, it wasn’t until the last decade that it became one of the largest producers in the nation. More pipelines were and continue to be needed to accommodate this increased production. In addition, some of the nation’s pipeline infrastructure is old and needs replacing or updating, but even this is often met with protest. If we wish to be energy-independent, we need more and better infrastructure to continue developing our petroleum resources in a safe, reliable, and environmentally-sound way.



The oil and gas industry employs hundreds of thousands of people, ranging from blue-collared workers to skilled tradesmen to white-collar office jobs like engineers and accountants. Especially for those operating on the rig and in the field, these jobs can be dangerous if workers aren’t properly trained.

To help eliminate some of the risk associated with oil and gas development, workers must undergo rigorous safety training, which takes time. It’s also very difficult to recruit workers to states like North Dakota that can experience harsh weather conditions that swing from bitter cold temperatures in the winter to sweltering heat in the summer. And finally, the ups and downs of the industry often detract workers from entering the industry. A stable and steady workplace and industry can help give workers more confidence that they will have a job for many years.

Can North Dakota really make a difference?

The short of it: North Dakota is the country’s third-largest oil-producing state in the nation behind only Texas and New Mexico. In 2022, North Dakota produced on average 1.07 million barrels of oil and 2.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Compared on an international level, North Dakota ranks in the Top 20 oil producers in the world.[1] With a sound regulatory framework, investment, and infrastructure, increased production from North Dakota and other U.S. states could help replace oil from OPEC countries, enhancing energy security for the U.S. and its allies.


Until September 2021, North Dakota had been the second-largest producer before development in New Mexico’s Permian Basin overtook the Bakken-Three Forks. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 4.3 billion barrels and 4.9 trillion cubic feet of gas are technically recoverable (or in other words, can be recovered with today’s technology or processes),[1] though other estimates have shown that there may be as much as 500 billion barrels of total oil in place. A more conservative estimate conducted by the North Dakota Geological Survey estimates there are 167 billion barrels of oil that has been generated, though not technically recoverable with current technology.[2] Innovation and enhanced oil recovery such as carbon sequestration and capture is the key to unlocking these vast reserves.

Despite advances made in renewable energy, the Energy Information Administration projects that petroleum and natural gas will remain the most-consumed sources of energy in the U.S. through at least 2050 and the world’s energy use in 2040 will still depend on oil and natural gas. The U.S. has an opportunity to maintain its role as a leading energy producer, lending energy security to our nation and allies throughout the world.