Uncertain outlook as North Dakota tops 10,000 shale oil wells

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An oil well near Watford City, North Dakota pumped oil from two miles below the surface in the Bakken shale formation. ] GLEN STUBBE * [email protected] This is around sunset.

 North Dakota

By David Shaffer

North Dakota surpassed a milestone in June — its 10,000th shale oil well — amid a still-gloomy outlook for its petroleum industry.

The industry, facing continued low crude oil prices, is finishing off previously drilled wells to get oil and some revenue flowing and to meet regulated completion timetables, state officials said Friday. But the number of rigs drilling new wells declined again.

Oil producers using hydraulic fracturing completed 149 oil wells in the Bakken or Three Forks plays in June, bringing the total to 10,113. The state also has more than 2,700 legacy wells from before the shale boom.

The new wells increased June’s crude oil output to 1.21 million barrels per day, up 0.7 percent over May, a pace that North Dakota officials hope can be sustained to keep oil tax revenue flowing over the next two years.

But Lynn Helms, director of the state’s Division of Mineral Resources, said things could get worse.

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