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North Dakota Oil and NatGas Production Up While Prices Drop Steadily

Oil and natural gas statistics were all up in North Dakota while prices for Bakken sweet crude continued to plummet since June, hitting $32/bbl on Friday, according to Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources.

For the most recent months with complete statistics, oil production overall was 31.9 million bbl (1.029 million b/d) in July, compared to 30.8 million bbl (1.027 million b/d) in June. For gas, total production was 52.6 Bcf (1.69 Bcf/d) in July, compared to 49.8 Bcf (1.66 Bcf/d) in June.

The number of producing wells increased slightly from June to July, hitting 13,255 compared to 13,248 in June.

But since June, Bakken sweet crude prices have continued to topple each month from the $38.75/bbl mark to $35.57/bbl in July and $33.73/bbl in August.

"The number of well completions dropped from 45 (final) in June to 41 (preliminary) in July," Helms said. "Oil price weakness is the primary reason for the slowdown and is now anticipated to last into at least the fourth quarter of this year and perhaps into the second quarter of 2017."

The drilling rig count increased three from June to July, then increased one from July to August, and increased one more from August to Friday. "Operators remain committed to running the minimum number of rigs while oil prices remain below $60/bbl WTI," Helms said.

The price of natural gas delivered to Northern Border at Watford City is up 19 cents to $2.60/Mcf. This results in a current oil to gas price ratio of 12.3-to-1, Helms said. The percentage of gas flared increased to 10.5%. The July Bakken capture percentage was 91% with the daily volume of gas flared from June to July up 15 MMcf/d.

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