End of 2020 statistics showed North Dakota’s Bakken Shale production holding relatively steady and other indicators, including oil prices, turning upward. But the state’s chief oil and natural gas official said production likely will drop for January and February.

North Dakota production

“The drilling rig count [15 as of last Friday] is substantially short of what we need to maintain production [at 1.2 million b/d] off of drilling and completions,” said Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources. “We really need to have 30 to 35 drilling rigs to be putting out 70 completed wells monthly.

“We are hearing positive things about drilling, and with oil prices where they are today, we may begin to see increases in drilling sooner than we had expected, maybe by the end of...