Bad news for the Bakken? Big oil producer says it's leaving North Dakota


Reuters reports Occidental Petroleum is selling its land in the Bakken region – an area that's been struggling in recent months after years of booming business.

The Wall Street Journal says Occidental is one of the first and biggest companies to "turn its back on" the Bakken region since business hit a skid in recent months.

The company – the fourth-largest oil producer based in the U.S., Reuters says – will instead shift more resources from the Williston Basin to Texas, where the company sees huge possibility with the Permian Basin (in the western region of the state), according to Fuel Fix.

“We could run four rigs in the Permian Basin with this money and generate more production than we’d get out of the Bakken," Occidental’s outgoing CEO Stephen Chazen said, Fuel Fix reports. "It was a pretty easy decision.”

Occidental sold its North Dakota assets to Texas-based Lime Rock Resources, Reuters reports.

The oil boom has been an economic boon to North Dakota in recent years – but low crude oil prices in recent months have dealt heavy blows to the businesses there, and the state budget.

State lawmakers were told general fund tax revenues fell $41.7 million short of projections in July and August, the Grand Forks Herald reported.

The most recent monthly report from North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources says the state produced nearly 1.19 barrels of oil a day in August – the all-time high was December of 2014, when it hit 1.23 million barrels a day. There were 74 rigs in operation that month (down from a high of 218 in May of 2012) – currently it's down to 67 rigs.

The Motley Fool, a stock analysis website that picked up its name from Shakespeare's "As You Like It," says Occidental may have struggled with their spot in North Dakota – their acreage wasn't in as oil-saturated an area as North Dakota's leading producer at the moment, Whiting Petroleum.

Overall, the Bakken is considered by many in the energy industry to be an expensive area to run an oil operation, the Wall Street Journal writes, and companies are still navigating issues over the lack of pipelines that could move crude oil across the country.

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