OPEC's decision to decrease production could benefit North Dakota

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BISMARCK, N.D. - OPEC came to an agreement Wednesday and it's a big deal. It could mean very good news for North Dakota.

The news that decreased production world-wide could mean increased production in North Dakota, but it could also mean state revenues increase by millions of dollars.

The falling oil prices in the last few years has hurt North Dakota financially.

But, news from the OPEC meeting Wednesday could be changing that.

The group of oil producing countries agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels a day. Financial expert Dennis Wang says we're already starting to see effects.

"I think we've seen them, I mean oil has rallied $6 in the last two days," Dennis Wang, Heartland Investors.

The rally has brought the price of oil over $50 per barrel. If that price is sustained we'll see increased oil production in the Bakken.

But we'll also see some more immediate dividends in the oil already being produced.

"So even the increase in oil price that we're seeing because of OPEC pulling back could mean as much as $75, $100 million for every dollar increase over a biennium, so over a 24 month period," said Ryan Rauschenberger, ND Tax Commissioner.

That could be $300 or $400 million with the current $6 increase.

Oil taxes in the state are split into two categories; extraction taxes, which go to state government funds like schools and water resources; and production taxes, which go directly to the cities and counties that produce oil.

At the same time the increased price should lead oil producers back to the state.

"We know that we need to get to $55 or $65 in order to restore some financial strength to the Bakken and get some investment back into the bakken and really see the drilling program continue to grow once again," said Ron Ness, North Dakota Petroleum Council.

That growth isn't expected until late 2017.

Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said in a statement: "In the very short term the decision by OPEC to cut production should provide a boost to the market where we could see enough confidence at $50 WTI for frac crews to start moving again."