The Decline And Fall Of North Dakota’s Bakken Oil Play

Oil production from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota fell to a 7-year low of 827,000 barrels per day in May (Figure 1). That is a drop of almost 550,000 barrels per day (-40%) since March. Most of the decrease in output is because more than 2,800 wells were shut in over the last two months because of low prices.

The average wellhead price in the play is only $31.75—almost a $9 discount to the West Texas Intermediate benchmark. That’s because of high transportation costs from the Williston Basin to the Cushing pricing point and to refineries. There are only 10 active rigs in the Bakken today compared to an average of 53 rigs in 2020.