North Dakota oil output posts biggest drop in history

Wed Jun 15, 2016 4:17pm EDT
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By Ernest Scheyder

(Reuters) - North Dakota's oil output fell the most in history in April, with low crude prices CLc1 and inclement weather forcing producers to cut back the drilling and fracking of new wells, state regulators said on Wednesday.

The output drop highlighted the deep pain spreading through the second-largest oil producing state, with the more than 50 percent drop in crude prices since late 2014 fueling spending cuts and layoffs.

The state pumped 1,041,007 barrels of oil per day (bpd) in April, 70,414 bpd less than March, according to the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), which reports on a two-month lag.

The drop was the largest monthly decline in the state's history, due largely to low prices but also windy weather throughout much of April, which delays the fracking of wells, said Lynn Helms, head of the DMR.

"You just can't really ignore the significance of that" production drop, Helms told reporters on a conference call.

The slide is expected to accelerate through May and into the summer, he said.

Helms had previously forecast the state's output to fall below 1 million bpd by January, but on Wednesday he said that mark could be breached before the end of the year.

"It's going to be very hard for industry at these kind of drilling levels and prices below the $50 mark" to maintain production, Helms said. The state has begun collecting May production data from companies and will report it next month.   Continued...

Stacked rigs and other idle oil equipment is seen in a Nabors Drilling yard near Williston, North Dakota April 30, 2016.  REUTERS/Andre Cullen/File Photo