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Bakken forecast: Fewer drilling rigs, continued growth

People in the oil patch may see a few changes in 2013.

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms says people will see FEWER drilling rigs than there were in 2012.

"I do not anticipate at this stage of the game that we'll go above 218 rigs," said Helms. That 218 is a record, and was established in May. "That stressed our infrastructure beyond the maximum that it could handle."

Helms says he's anticipating 10 percent fewer rigs. He says that means about 200 rigs will be drilling in the Bakken. But he says the rigs are getting more efficient, and multiple wells are drilled from a single pad.

Helms says people will also see a gradual transition in employment – away from the roughnecks who work on the rigs to fracking crews, crews that work over rigs – and people working in production jobs. And Helms says that will afect housing needs, and hotel rooms.

"The demand for hotel rooms has probably leveled off," said Helms. "There's going to be a continued demand for apartments and single family housing in the oil patch."

And Helms says the patch will see a lot of road construction activity this summer.

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