BISMARCK, N.D., Sept. 21 (UPI) -- The number of rigs engaged in exploration and production in North Dakota, the No. 2 oil producer in the nation, is on a steady decline, state data show.
Data from the North Dakota Industrial Commission show 67 rigs employed across the state, down about 3 percent from last week and 65 percent less than this date in 2014. The 196 rigs engaged in exploration and production activity on Sept. 21, 2014, was the highest in three years.
Oil field services company Baker Hughes reported last week the number of rigs deployed across the United States fell 1.2 percent to 644 for the third-straight week of declines.
Low crude oil prices mean energy companies have less capital to invest in exploration and production, a trend reflected in the fewer number of rigs active in U.S. shale basins.
In its latest monthly market report, the NDIC said slumping crude oil prices, along with improved operational efficiency, meant energy companies were running fewer rigs than their planned minimum in the state for 2015.
North Dakota is the No. 2 oil producer. Oil production in June, the last full month for which data are available, was 1.21 million barrels per day, just shy of the record 1.22 million bpd set in December.
In its latest short-term market report, however, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said total crude oil production will decline 4.3 percent from expected full-year 2015 levels to 8.8 million bpd by 2016.