BISMARCK, N.D., Nov. 23 (UPI) -- As crude oil prices drift lower during the last weeks of 2015, the No. 2 oil producer in the nation, North Dakota, reported little movement in rig activity.
West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, is 47 percent lower than it was at this time last year. That leaves energy companies with less capital to invest in exploration and production, a trend reflected in lower rig counts.
State data show one rig was added from last week for 65. The state rig count held steady at 64 for the first two weeks of November. The historic low in the No. 2 oil producer in the nation was 63, set in November 2009. Rig counts for November are down about 8.5 percent.
Oil production in September, the last full month for which data are available, was 1.16 million barrels per day, down about 2 percent from the previous month.
More than 90 percent of the oil production in the state comes from the Bakken shale reserve. A drilling productivity report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast a decline of 27,000 bpd from North Dakota shale by December.
Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, said in the latest monthly report for the state operators are running fewer rigs in the state, though they're more efficient than in the past. Rig counts may drop further, however, as the weakened oil economy persists.
"Oil price weakness is now anticipated to last through next year and is the main reason for the continued slow-down," he said in the report.