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North Dakota surpasses California to become third-largest U.S. oil producer

Alaska Dispatch
A drill rig near Williston, ND.
Stephen Nowers photo
New construction in Williston, ND
Stephen Nowers photo
Gas flare at sunrise near Williston, North Dakota.
Stephen Nowers photo
Ray, North Dakota.
Stephen Nowers photo
Traffic on Route 85 and the Missouri River.
Stephen Nowers photo
Barbed wire fence in a North Dakota wheat field.
Stephen Nowers photo
A truck hauls drill pipe through wheat fields from a drilling site near Williston, North Dakota.
Stephen Nowers photo
Drill rigs and gas flares near U.S. Route 2 in North Dakota.
Stephen Nowers photo
An empty gravel truck drives on a rural road in North Dakota near Williston.
Stephen Nowers photo
A drill rig works in a field of wheat near Williston, North Dakota.
Stephen Nowers photo
Treeline at sunset in Ray, North Dakota.
Stephen Nowers photo

It's official: North Dakota has surpassed California to become the third largest oil-producing state in the Union. Will Alaska's exodus of strippers to the Bakken patch kick into overdrive?

An Associated Press article from The Dickinson Press in North Dakota notes that in January, the Peace Garden State produced 16.9 million barrels of oil to California's 15.8 million barrels.

North Dakota's crude is coming from the massive Bakken oil patch, where production was up 11,000 barrels in January, over December. There are 6,600 wells and "a record" 205 rigs pumping in North Dakota, the AP reports, while California has more than 49,000 active wells.

Alaska remains the second-largest oil producing state, behind Texas. In January, Alaska produced 18.3 million barrels, averaging 592,000 barrels per day, an official with the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission told the AP.

AOGCC also said, according to the story, that Alaska was on pace to produce fewer than 200 million barrels this year. Some oil production prognosticators have predicted that North Dakota could surpass Alaska in oil production in 2012

Read more from the AP on North Dakota's leapfrog over California here.