North Dakota rig activity increasing, though still far below levels set when oil prices were plummeting. Photo by Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock
BISMARCK, N.D., June 8 (UPI) -- The number of rigs actively exploring for or producing oil and natural gas in North Dakota recovered from recent lows, state data show.
The state government reports 82 rigs in active service as of Monday, up one from Friday and two more than the number reported June 1, which marked a new record low for the state at the heart of the shale oil boom in the United States.
North Dakota is the No. 2 oil producer. Oil production in March, the last full month for which data are available, was 1.19 million barrels per day, an increase from the previous month, but 3 percent below the all-time record set in December.
State data from mid-March showed 111 active rigs in the state. There were 156 active rigs reported in the state in January. The North Dakota Industrial Commission said at the time the weakened crude oil market was "by far the biggest driver behind the slow-down" in rig activity.
Rig data can serve as a barometer for the health of the energy sector. The low price of crude oil is leaving energy companies with less capital to invest in exploration and production, known as the upstream side of the oil and gas sector.
Oilfield services company Baker Hughes last week said in its rig count report there were 10 fewer rigs actively exploring for or producing oil and natural gas in the United States than the previous week. Canada gained rigs, meaning all of the loss in North America for the week ending May 29 came from the United States.
The price for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, was around $46.50 in mid-March. WTI was trading near $58 per barrel early Monday.