North Dakota's State-Owned Minerals Valued At $2.4 Billion

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A new analysis of North Dakota’s state-owned minerals is nearly $1 billion more than a similar estimate last year when the coronavirus created uncertainty and low prices and demand for oil declined.

MineralTracker, of Watford, which is part of First International Bank & Trust, estimates the current value of the state's minerals is $2.4 billion.

Oil prices have rebounded considerably since the 2020 downturn and even exceeded $80 per barrel this fall before dropping in recent days as fears about the omicron coronavirus variant emerged, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

MineralTracker examines the 8,000 wells in which the state holds an interest. Currently, about 17,000 wells are operating in North Dakota.

The company's mineral service manager Joel Brown told the North Dakota Board of University and School Lands last week that he found several trends in the latest modeling.

Most wells temporarily idled during the early days of the pandemic have started operating again now that oil prices have improved, but the rate at which companies are drilling new wells has not kept pace with the price uptick.

Natural gas production is growing at a faster rate than oil production, though oil generally remains the sought-after commodity in the region.

“As I look at wells on an individual basis, I’m blown away by the amount of gas that is being produced,” Brown said. “With gas prices where they are today, it’s nice to be realizing some value for that.”

Natural gas prices have increased in recent months after spending years at lower levels amid an uptick in gas production across the U.S.