BISMARCK, N.D. - The oil industry is still hanging on despite low crude prices and reduced rig counts. The Department of Mineral Resources shared the latest figures today from July. There's still optimism, but it's tempered by the reality that a quick turnaround is not around the corner.
Oil production was up for the month of July ever so slightly. But compared to where prices are, a 0.2 percent increase was a surprise to industry leaders.
"We were really expecting there might be some decline, it still is in the works, there were enough completions of enough wells roughly 41 completions of extremely good wells that allowed industry to maintain production above a million barrels a day," said Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms.
That's down four wells from the month of June.
As winter approaches Helms predicts we will be seeing more decreases in well completions and production.
"I still think that the revenue projection put together for 900,000 barrels per day is pretty realistic. I think we are heading in that direction," said Helms.
Helms says North Dakota is one or two months away from being below the million barrels per day mark. The rig count is currently at 33; Helms says experts projects it'll hover around 30 when temperatures drop.
Lynn Helms, Director Department of Mineral Resources "There's not enough value to mobilize frack crews and certainty not enough value to mobilize drilling rigs."
Oil prices have been on the decline in recent weeks, a barrel of Bakken crude is currently $32 a barrel. Operators are staying committed to the $50 to $60 per barrel price point for 90 days before bringing more wells or rigs online.
"It really looks like they've reduced costs as much as they can," said Helms.
Helms predicts it won't be until the 2nd quarter of next year before the oil industry sees a rebound.
By comparison to 33, there were 70 active rigs in September of 2015. The all time high was 218 in May of 2012.