TIOGA, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's resurgent oil industry on Wednesday held a celebration marking the state's impressive 1 million barrels a day production level in the town where oil was first found in the state. World War II-era fighter planes swooped low above a grassy field in an airshow and guests chowed down on plates piled with barbequed pork, shrimp and baked beans and waited in line to collect commemorative medallions.
The state, the second-biggest oil producer in the U.S., passed 1 million barrels a day of production in April, but the announcement wasn't made until June 17.
The event was largely a pat on the back from the industry to itself. For years since technology advances unlocked the oil of North Dakota's Bakken formation, the question has been when the state would hit the mark, not if.
But that is not how it has always been.
Oil exploration began in North Dakota in the early 1900s. Decades later, drillers had nothing to show for their efforts.
A Williston Herald story from April 5, 1951 noted that before the Amerada Petroleum Company began drilling its Clarence Iverson No. 1 well in a wheat field south of Tioga, 20 wells had been dug in the state. All were failures. "This time they hit it," read the article about the April 4 strike.
The discovery kicked off a "frenzied optimism" in Williston and the northwestern quadrant of the state. Oil company representatives rushed to town and land men bargained with locals to secure drilling rights.
By the end of 1952, the state had 89 wells, jumping to more than 1,200 in 1958. Now, it has more than 10,000.
Production shot up rapidly as well: 72 barrels in 1951, 4,393 in 1952, 14,544 in 1953 — all the way up to more than 60,000 in 1960.
Between 1960 and the end of the 1970s, production mostly stayed between 60,000 and 70,000 barrels a day. Then a boom hit, doubling the state's daily output in just a few years. But an oil price glut hit North Dakota hard. Drilling slowed. Workers abandoned boomtowns.
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