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Oil production in North Dakota drops for first time in almost a year

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Production at the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota has dropped for the first time in almost a year, as plummeting oil prices take a toll on the industry.

The Bakken Magazine reports that production slowed to 1.182 million barrels per day in October, a slight decrease of 4,000 barrels per day on the month earlier, making the first decline in production since November 2013.

The decline may continue as well, with KX News reporting that the number of operational rigs in December stands at 183, compared to 193 in September.

The fall in production is caused by dwindling demand for oil, which has caused prices to drop almost 50 per cent since September, as well as new restrictions on flaring placed on oil companies since the beginning of October.

Further restrictions on crude oil conditioning have recently been approved and will come into effect in April, which North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms says is likely to leas to a plateauing of production, the Bakken Magazine said.

He told the Star Tribune that drilling for new wells is expected to be down in 2015, while current drilling rigs could decrease in number by about 50 by the middle of next year.

"I honestly did not see them [oil prices] this soft," he told the newspaper. "That is going to have a significant impact."

The low price of oil is expected to keep gas prices low during 2015. Prices at the pump are currently at the lowest level in four years in Minnesota, averaging $2.53 per gallon.

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