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North Dakota rig count drops

No. 2 oil producer in the middle of the pack in terms of rig declines.

By Daniel J. Graeber
North Dakota rig count down about 4 percent from the previous week, indicating continuing weakness in the energy sector. Photo by Lilac Mountain/Shutterstock
North Dakota rig count down about 4 percent from the previous week, indicating continuing weakness in the energy sector. Photo by Lilac Mountain/Shutterstock

BISMARCK, N.D., Oct. 5 (UPI) -- North Dakota nearly erased recent gains in the number of rigs deployed in exploration and production in the shale-rich state, losing three from last week.

State data show 68 rigs actively engaged in exploration and production as of Monday, down 4 percent from last week and 64 percent lower year-on-year. The shale-rich state bucked an industry trend last week by adding more rigs to it reserve basins.

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Rig counts serve as a barometer for the health of an energy sector in recession because of the low price of crude oil, down more than 50 percent from last year. Compared with other states, North Dakota is in the middle of the pack in terms of rig count variances. For shale-rich states, Colorado and Pennsylvania lost the most in terms of percent, while Ohio and Kansas gained the most.

Oil services company Baker Hughes in its weekly rig count report found total rigs in the United States was at a five-year low.

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North Dakota is the No. 2 oil producer in the nation, behind Texas.

Crude oil production in North Dakota was 1.2 million barrels per day in July, the last full month for which data are available. That's down about 1.6 percent from the all-time high reported in December, when crude oil prices were about 20 percent higher than the $44.85 per barrel reported Monday for West Texas Intermediate.

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The break-even oil price in North Dakota -- a price that includes exploration and production costs -- ranges from as low as $24 per barrel to as high as $85 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for crude oil prices, was around $46 per barrel Monday.

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