Oil price problem could lead to emergency rules | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Oil price problem could lead to emergency rules

Apr 21, 2020

A first for the US, and another effect of the coronavirus pandemic – the cost to have a barrel of crude oil delivered in May fell to a minus $37.63.

That’s due to a lack of demand, and a lack of oil storage.

"Some people who talk statistics call something very rare a 'black swan,'" Gov. Doug Burgum said at his Monday briefing. "It is more like a flock of black swans has descended on us."

Burgum said that’s concerning to a state like North Dakota, which depends on the oil industry to fund a significant part of state government. He said the state’s Industrial Commission will meet later today (Tuesday), to address the situation. Burgum said the Commission would be considering an emergency order to classify oil and gas produced at a loss to be considered a "waste."

"This would allow wells to be shut in," Burgum said.

Burgum said that emergency order would be in effect for 40 days, the maximum amount for an order of that type.

"This again would prevent companies from being forced to produce at a loss, and protect the economic health of producers, and help prevent bankruptcies," Burgum said.

Burgum said the oil industry has already been under extreme economic pressure, because of the drop in demand.

"We as a state, in partnership with them, need to do everything that we can to help them remain viable," Burgum said. "That's so when we come out the back side, we actually have a functioning industry in our state."

Burgum said the outlook on the futures market is better, with oil back in positive price territory.