Bakken dispute: What will the future hold?

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BISMARCK, N.D. - It's no secret that North Dakota's oil production declined last year, but a Forbes magazine article claims it's now the beginning of the end for the Bakken.

In December 2016 the state's oil production fell by 9 percent. A local analyst says these recent production numbers don't forecast future growth.

Ron Ness with North Dakota Petroleum Council says although this winter had an incredible impact on oil and gas activity, producers still view the Bakken as a world class resource.

A drop of more than 90,000 barrels in oil production is noticeable in North Dakota, but the drastic reduction seen in December isn't expected to become a long term pattern.

"Overall I think we're going to see increased investment in the Bakken, we're looking forward to a much better 2017," said Ness.

Ness says it's important to consider the rugged North Dakota winter when predicting future oil production, which a recent Forbes Magazine article doesn't mention. Ness also says it's a more competitive market with new technologies.

"They've taken this incredible technology we've developed right here in North Dakota and now utilizing that and putting that to work in other places across the country and the world but we're still going to be very strong in North Dakota's oil and gas industry," said Ness.

Ness says the strength of the Bakken is more confirmed by the fact that we're still around a million barrels after two years of significant price drops. He says the Dakota Access Pipeline will also encourage more producers to invest here.

"You get your oil to a better market, you pay less in transportation costs, puts more money back in the pockets of the producer, the royalty own, and ultimately the state of North Dakota," said Ness.

He adds that the new Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, a Montana native, will also be a great benefit to North Dakota and other energy producing states.

Ness says hopefully in the future, prices will maintain a higher $50 - $65 average for the Bakken.