North Dakota oil output holds steady at 1.2 million bpd for October

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Dec 14 (Reuters) - North Dakota oil production was just over 1.2 million barrels a day in October, holding near its strongest levels since the coronavirus pandemic began to curtail output in the state's Bakken shale field, a state official said on Monday.

The state's crude oil output sat at 1.22 million barrels in October, a 0.02% decline from the prior month, North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said at a monthly briefing, citing the latest available data.

North Dakota oil production remained below the 1.4 million bpd output it maintained in the months before COVID-19 began to slash global fuel demand. The state's oil rig count was down 75% from January to October.

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"This was probably the third worst year I have ever seen for the oil industry," said Helms, referencing his roughly 40 years in the industry.

An oil market crash in the late 1990s brought North Dakota down to zero drilling rigs and the oil price collapse in the mid-1980s cut the number of rigs down to the teens from about 150 rigs, he said.

"All in all, though, it was a pretty terrible year for the industry," Helms added.

The current price of crude produced in the Bakken, the second-largest U.S. shale basin, is about $37 a barrel, a drop off from the more than $60 a barrel before the health crisis curtailed fuel demand, the state said in its monthly report.

In 2021, Helms said he expected weak fuel demand caused by the pandemic, coupled with a push for cleaner energy as opposed to crude oil, to continue pressure oil prices and production.

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Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by David Gregorio

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