U.S. OIL DECLINED
North Dakota's oil production declined in February for the second consecutive month as drilling new wells slackened amid low oil prices.
State regulators said Tuesday that February's output was just short of 1.18 million barrels per day, down 50,435 daily barrels since December, which was the state's all-time high. It was the first consecutive two-month drop since January 2011.
The number of rigs drilling for North Dakota oil and gas dropped to 91 this month, down from 108 in March and 160 in February, according to data released by the state Department of Mineral Resources. The peak of drillings was 370 rigs in October 2012, the department said in its Director's Cut report.
The average wellhead price for North Dakota crude oil fell to $31.47 per barrel in March, but has recovered to $36.25 per barrel, the report said. The average price is based on light sweet crude prices posted at a Twin Cities refinery, minus delivery costs.
The report said the number of uncompleted wells in North Dakota rose to an estimated 900 at the end of February as drillers decided to hold off on the final step — injecting water, sand and chemicals to free gas and oil in the Bakken or Three Forks shale layers.
Oil field operators are postponing this work to avoid initial high oil production at low prices and to comply with the state's recent requirement to reduce flaring of natural gas, the report by division Director Lynn Helms said.
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