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No change in North Dakota rig count

Little movement after a week of heavy volatility in crude oil markets.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Little to no movement in rig deployments in North Dakota after a week of high volatility in crude oil prices. File photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/7efd87589df2afdc3254424b0d2de93a/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Little to no movement in rig deployments in North Dakota after a week of high volatility in crude oil prices. File photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI | License Photo

BISMARCK, N.D., July 18 (UPI) -- Following a week of high volatility in crude oil prices, there's been no change in the number of rigs in North Dakota since last week, state data show.

State data show 29 rigs actively exploring for or producing oil and gas as of Monday, unchanged from one week ago. Rig counts serve as a loose barometer for the oil and gas industry and, while easing somewhat, markets are swinging back to the demand side in a sign of returning balance.

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Crude oil prices have been volatile in the trading sessions that followed a British referendum in June to leave the European Union. The price for Brent crude oil started the trading day July 11 at $46.91 per barrel, moved up more than 3 percent the next day, only to trade near $47 per barrel early Monday.

For the week ending July 15, Baker Hughes reported a net gain of seven rigs in the United States, signaling the stability in crude oil prices may be having a positive impact on business confidence. Louisiana and New Mexico were two states showing the largest increase in rig activity last week, with Baker Hughes data showing North Dakota at some point last week lost a rig between July 11 and Monday.

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State data show crude oil production in May, the last full month for which data are available, was 0.5 percent higher than the previous month to average 1.04 million barrels per day. The all-time high was 1.23 million bpd in December 2014. May rig counts in North Dakota were at or near record lows.

The all-time low point for rigs in North Dakota is zero. In a monthly report, the North Dakota Industrial Commission's Oil and Gas Division said rig counts are down nearly 90 percent from their all-time high.

"Oil price weakness is the primary reason for the slow-down and is now anticipated to last into at least the third quarter of this year and perhaps into the second quarter of 2017," NDIC Director Lynn Helms said in a statement.

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North Dakota is the No. 2 oil producer in the United States behind Texas, which gained rigs in the last week.

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