Kevin L. Burdick
Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at ONEOK
Thank you, Walt. During the first quarter, we saw double-digit NGL volume growth across all our operating regions compared with the first quarter 2021. And Rocky Mountain region natural gas processing volumes increased 11% year-over-year. After reporting record Rocky Mountain region natural gas and NGL volumes in the fourth quarter 2021, we saw volumes decrease sequentially in the first quarter 2022, primarily due to normal seasonality across our operating areas. Through the first four months of the year, we've continued to see encouraging activity from producers, and we expect these activity levels to trend higher through the remainder of the year.
Let's take a closer look at our natural gas liquids segment. Total NGL raw feed throughput volumes increased 17% year-over-year, supported by increasing producer activity and increased ethane recovery. Rocky Mountain region NGL volumes increased 24% compared with the first quarter 2021. In April, we reached peak volumes of more than 385,000 barrels per day from the region, prior to the severe late-season storms Pierce discussed earlier. Mid-Continent NGL volumes increased 10% year-over-year. As producers continue to increase activity in the Mid-Continent, a large majority of those related NGLs are transported on our system. So far this year, NGL volumes from the region are trending slightly higher than we had originally planned.
In the Permian Basin, NGL volumes increased 23% year-over-year due to strong producer activity levels, which feed our WesTex NGL pipeline. In the Gulf Coast, construction continues on our 125,000 barrel per day NV5 fractionator in Mont Belvieu, which we now expect to be complete in the second quarter of 2023. NV5 will increase our total systemwide fractionation capacity to more than 1 million barrels per day.
International LPG demand remains strong, and we continue to expect both domestic and international ethane demand to continue to increase throughout 2022. As natural gas prices have increased this year, ethane prices have kept pace, providing attractive ethane recovery economics in certain areas of our system. While first quarter ethane recovery is typically lighter due to natural gas heating demand and typical winter weather impacts, we see strong ethane recovery opportunities for the remainder of the year.
Moving on to the natural gas gathering and processing segment. In the Rocky Mountain region, first quarter processed volumes averaged 1.3 billion cubic feet per day, an 11% increase year-over-year. In April, volumes reached a peak of more than 1.4 billion cubic feet per day prior to the storms. We connected more than 90 wells in the region in the first quarter compared with 38 connections in the first quarter 2021, and are on pace to meet our guidance midpoint of 400 well connections in the region.
There are currently 38 rigs and 12 completion crews operating in the basin with 17 rigs and approximately half of the completion crews on our dedicated acreage. This continues to be more than enough activity to grow gas production in the basin and on our acreage. Additionally, the basin-wide DUC inventory remains at approximately 500, with half of those on our dedicated acreage. Recent reports from the North Dakota pipeline authority highlight the long runway of core drilling inventory remaining in the Williston Basin. Enhanced drilling and completion technologies are significantly increasing the basin's core acreage and further extending the decades of profitable drilling locations remaining in the region.
The core acreage in the basin has expanded by an additional 3,000 square miles, with more than 7,000 drilling locations added to inventory that are profitable at crude oil prices of $60 per barrel. In the Mid-Continent region, we continue to see increased activity with three rigs now operating on our acreage and 45 rigs basin-wide. We continue to expect increased natural gas processing volumes from the region compared with 2021, and expect the majority of rigs basin-wide to drive additional NGLs to our system.
In the natural gas pipeline segment, strong first quarter results benefited from increased natural gas sales and higher seasonal volumes compared with the fourth quarter 2021. We continue to see strong demand for natural gas storage services and are working to expand our facilities to meet this increasing demand. We recently completed a 1.1 billion cubic feet expansion of our Texas storage facilities, and announced an open season to increase our storage capabilities in Oklahoma enabling an additional 4 billion cubic feet of storage capacity to be contracted. This project is expected to be complete in early 2023.
We also recently announced two open seasons for additional pipeline capacity to address increased demand. One on our WesTex pipeline system in the Permian Basin and one on our Viking Pipeline in the Upper Midwest. We continue to work with customers across our natural gas pipeline network to address their evolving transportation and storage needs as these key assets continue to provide value year around.
Pierce, that concludes my remarks.