Oil official: Low crude prices means fewer rigs working in North Dakota's booming oil patch

IndustriesAssociated Press

Slipping crude prices will mean fewer rigs in North Dakota's booming oil patch, the head of the state's oil industry group says.

"We're going to see some rigs lay down," North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness told the Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/1FG13XS ) for a story published Friday.

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Ness said as prices drop, companies will focus on more profitable areas where oil yields are best. Companies also may decrease costs by cutting back on employee housing, exploration and other services, said Ness, whose group represents more than 500 companies working in western North Dakota's oil fields.

If prices continue to slip, cutbacks could come in January or February, Ness said.

There were 185 oil rigs drilling on Saturday. That's down from 191 for the same day one year ago.

Each active oil rig represents about 40 direct jobs and 80 indirect jobs in the state, officials have said.

Fewer rigs means fewer workers, but Ness is optimistic about workers' employment prospects.

"I think there's a lot of open jobs," he said. "There's going to be some changing of who has the jobs."

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com