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The latest numbers for North Dakota show that McKenzie County now has a solid hold as the state’s top oil producing county.

McKenzie County, home of Watford City and more rigs drilling than any other county, produces nearly 500,000 barrels more oil a month than Mountrail County, the next-closest ranked, and more than twice as much natural gas.

McKenzie County first edged by Mountrail County in April’s production numbers, but took a substantial step past its neighbor when May’s numbers were released Monday by the Department of Mineral Resources.

The county now has 300 more producing wells than Mountrail County and had a May production rate of 6.7 million barrels compared to Mountrail’s 6.2 million.

Mountrail County had long held the position of ground zero for oil development and a head-and-shoulders’ lead in oil production. However, in the past year or so drilling has substantially shifted west into the interior of the Bakken region with McKenzie County at the epicenter.

As of Monday, there were 72 rigs drilling in McKenzie County and 34 rigs drilling in Mountrail County, the two accounting for more than half of the 186 rigs in the oil patch.

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Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 701-220-5511 or lauren@westriv.com.

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