North Dakota rig activity stabilizing

Federal data show oil and gas production from new wells on the rise.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  March 28, 2016 at 6:05 AM
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BISMARCK, N.D., March 28 (UPI) -- The number of rigs engaged in exploration and production activity in North Dakota held steady for the third consecutive week, state data show.

The state government reports 32 rigs engaged in exploration and production activities in the state as of Monday, a week-on-week figure that's been unchanged since March 14. Rig counts serve as a loose gauge for the health of the energy industry as lower crude oil prices have translated to less spending on exploration and production, the upstream side of the energy sector.

Crude oil prices are up about 7 percent from March 14 and 31 percent higher than the start of March. Rig counts in North Dakota, meanwhile, are down about 8.5 percent from the state of the month and 67 percent below this time last year.

The all-time low point is zero and the peak for this day was 206 posted in 2012.

Data released last week from the federal government show an increase in production of oil and gas from new wells in North Dakota even was the number of rigs decline in the state. Net oil and gas production data, however, show a decline is expected through April.

Recent analysis from energy reporting group Platts found oil production from the Bakken play in North Dakota was down 1 percent from December, continuing a marginal decline the group said started during summer 2015. State data from North Dakota show crude oil production in January, the last full month for which data are available, was 1.12 million barrels per day, a 2.6 percent decline from December and 8 percent lower than the all-time high recorded in December 2014.

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

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