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'Calm before the storm' -- Helms talks February oil numbers

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The calm before the storm.

That’s how North Dakota Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms described his monthly “Director’s Cut” oil and gas production report.

This report reflects the numbers from February.

"In February, we began from a good place," Helms said. "We actually saw production increase a little over 20,000 barrels a day, about 1.4 percent, to about 1.45 million barrels a day."

Helms also said natural gas production was up by 6.4 percent, to more than 3.1 billion cubic feet per day.

The state also achieved 87 percent natural gas capture.

But since that time, Helms said the number of drilling rigs has fallen from 54 in February to 34 currently. And he says the number of inactive wells is up, and is now over 4000.

"We're seeing a tremendous volume of applications for non-completed well waivers and inactive well waivers," Helms said. "Next month, we'll see massive increases in those numbers."

The state's Industrial Commission has implemented a new policy, allowing the industry to make what Helms called "business  and financial-based decisions" on cutting back production and shutting wells in.

Helms said the recent announcement of the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut their oil production by 10 million barrels a day will help. But he said worldwide demand for oil is down – and has not yet bottomed out.

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