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ND oil production drops more than 70,000 barrels a day from March to April

Dave Thompson

North Dakota’s oil production continues to drop.

It took a relatively big hit from March to April.

But the news isn’t all bad.

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms holds a monthly “Director’s Cut” briefing. The one today was for the month of April. He likes to have a theme for those briefings – and this month’s theme was…

“The good, the bad and the ugly.”

Under the good, Helms says natural gas flaring remained constant – at around 9 percent. A second “good” point – the number of drilling rigs has actually increased, after several months of losses.

“We’re up one rig from May to date," said Helms." So, that’s a positive. Not a huge positive, mind you. At least it indicates we’re at the bottom.”

And Helms says oil prices are up by about $5 a barrel from May until today (June 15th). He says if prices are at $40 a barrel or above, a number of inactive wells will become active.

That’s the good news. Helms says the bad news is – although prices flirted with $50 a barrel, they haven’t held there.

“That’s the price level we have to sustain for 90 days before people work really seriously on the non-completed well count.”

Now, the ugly.

“70,400 barrel a day drop from March until April.”

Helms says that’s a record. But:

“I don’t think you would consider this normal," Helms said. "I don’t anticipate this would be the beginning of a trend, or that we’re going to see additional months with this kind of drop.”

Helms attributed that drop to price, road restrictions and windy conditions. He says he is expecting a little bit of a rebound during the summer months – but he does expect production to drop under the million-barrel-a-day mark by the end of the year.

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