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Reuters, Published August 16 2013

Bakken oil output posts record monthly increase in June

NEW YORK - Crude oil output in the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota rose by a record 54,000 barrels per day in June to reach nearly 860,000 bpd, energy intelligence group Genscape said on Tuesday.

If accurate, Genscape's report would show the largest monthly production increase in the Bakken fields' history, according to the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC). The previous record was in February this year, when the Bakken produced 41,000 bpd more than in the previous month.

Genscape's preliminary forecast comes ahead of the official numbers from NDIC's monthly report, which is due on Thursday. The energy intelligence group attributed part of the increase in production to favorable weather, which allowed producers to accelerate the completion of new wells.

Genscape predicted that production at the North Dakota shale fields will continue to grow, adding 68,000 bpd between June and the end of the year to reach levels of 1.1 million bpd by the end of 2014.

The previous Genscape report on Bakken production forecast an increase of 12,000 bpd from April to May, 4,000 bpd less than the 16,000 bpd later reported by NDIC.

The energy intelligence group also said that the amount of Bakken shale oil transported by rail fell from 84 percent to 70 percent of the total in June, based on the 12 crude-by-rail terminals the company monitors in the region.

Genscape attributed the increase in pipeline traffic to the sharp drop in the price discount for crudes in the Midwest versus markets on the Gulf Coast.

The so-called Brent-WTI spread, which measures the difference between international market North Sea Brent and West Texas Intermediate oil at Cushing, Oklahoma, narrowed from more than $23 a barrel in February to less than $10 a barrel in May. On Monday Brent-WTI traded around $3.50 a barrel.