"Tough Times in the Oil Patch": Slump in Oil Production and Completed Wells Throughout the Bakken

August oil production in the Bakken showed a slumping rate versus the previous month, according to a report released in mid-October. The month’s production, under 1.2 million barrels per day, is 21,000 barrels less than in July and marks the fifth consecutive month in which production has declined.

The downward trend in particularly significant because August is usually a peak oil production month, according to Lynn Helms, director of North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources.

The 2015 figure is the first time production has dropped in the Bakken in over 10 ten years. The decline is primarily due to a drop in crude oil prices, which sank to a six-year low in August, despite a worldwide hike in demand.

The price slump has caused production-related construction to decline as well. The number of new oil wells awaiting completion, for example, has risen in tandem with the drop in production. August figures indicated nearly 1,000 wells were standing uncompleted, according to the Department of Mineral Resources, a jump of 79 wells from the July level. Oil producers customarily slow the completion of wells in tough economic times to wait out low prices.

The economic downturn is likely to have a negative impact on oil workers. An official of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas spoke to the Montana Automobile Dealers Association about the relationship,noting: "What this means of course is more downsizing, more layoffs, maybe some bankruptcies, and asset sales. It's tough times in the oil patch, not just in the Bakken but across the United States."

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