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No change in North Dakota rig deployments

State's oil sector showing resiliency in durable crude oil weakness.

By Daniel J. Graeber

BISMARCK, N.D., July 20 (UPI) -- North Dakota oil activity is leveling out during an era of lower oil prices with activity in the exploration and production sector holding steady, data show.

North Dakota reported 73 rigs in active service as of Monday, unchanged from the previous week and down three from the number reported July 6. The exploration and production side of the North Dakota energy sector, measured by rig counts, is slower by more than half from this date in 2014, however, when 195 rigs were deployed across the state.

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Rig deployments were near historic highs in 2012, with more than 200 reported.

A steep decline in crude oil prices, which began in June 2014 when prices were above the $100 per barrel mark, has left energy companies with less capital to invest in exploration and production, a trend reflected in rig counts.

Data published last week from oil services company Baker Hughes show the total number of rigs deployed onshore in the United States dropped by three to 824 from the week ending July 10. The trend was reflected more in the oil sector, with rig deployments down by seven to 638.

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The total number of rigs deployed in the onshore U.S. oil sector is down by more than 900 from last year.

North Dakota is the second largest oil producer in the nation and, while diversified, its economy depends in part on the surge of oil taken from shale basins in the state.

State government data show oil production for May, the last full month for which data are available, was 1.2 million barrels per day, the second highest rate ever for North Dakota and 32,000 bpd above April's average rate.

The all-time high was 1.22 million bpd was reported in December 2014.

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