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North Dakota rig count near six-year low

State data show activity in shale areas down about 8.5 percent for November.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
The number of rigs deployed in North Dakota are near the historic low reported in 2009, state data show. File photo by ekina/UPI
The number of rigs deployed in North Dakota are near the historic low reported in 2009, state data show. File photo by ekina/UPI

BISMARCK, N.D., Nov. 16 (UPI) -- The number of rigs actively exploring for or producing oil and natural gas in North Dakota is holding steady near a six-year low, state data show.

The state government reports 64 rigs in active service in the state, unchanged from the count reported one week ago. The rig count for Monday is close to a low point in November 2009 of 63 and down nearly 8.5 percent from the start of the month.

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Lower crude oil prices means less capital is available to energy companies to invest in exploration and production, a trend reflected in lower rig counts. Oil services company Baker Hughes reported 767 rigs in active service in the United States for the week ending Nov. 13, a 70 percent decline from the same week in 2014.

North Dakota is the No. 2 oil producer in the country behind Texas. State data show 1.16 million barrels of oil produced per day in September, down 2 percent from August and 5.3 percent below the all-time high recorded in December 2014.

Gas production is faring no better, with the September level of 1.6 million cubic feet per day off 3.4 percent from the record set in July.

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a report on drilling productivity that, of the seven shale basins that contribute most to overall production growth, only Texas shale is expected to report an increase for the rest of the year.

Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, said in a report last week that a prolonged slump in crude oil prices was the main driver for the slowdown in North Dakota shale.

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