Could North Dakota Have as Many as 80 Oil Rigs Operating Again by Next Year?

North Dakota’s oil boom is over, and the state just went through a bruising budget process during the legislative session earlier this year to prove it, but I think the question a lot of people are wondering is what’s next?

We’re seeing some headlines about a new Bakken “boomlet,” so I had Rob Lindberg from Bakken Backers on my radio show today (audio below) to discuss what’s next for oil development in our state.

He said we can expect to see growth in the number of drilling rigs operating, “possibly in the 80’s by next year.”

Here’s data from the Department of Mineral Resources on the average number of drilling rigs operating in the state each month. As you can see, there’s already been some bounce back in activity in recent months. There are around 50 rights operating in the state right now.

We probably aren’t ever going back to the days when we had as many as 200 rigs operating, but even 80 would be a big driver for jobs and economic activity and, in turn, tax revenues for the state.

Still, Linberg is warning not to expect another boom.

“Even if prices went up to $90 per barrel we wouldn’t see that flurry of activity again,” he said. Rather, he says the oil industry in North Dakota has begun to “normalize.”

“We’re seeing things stabilize into what I call an industry,” Lindberg said. That means a “stable work force” of people who have roots in the state, not an influx of workers living in crew camps.

Here’s the full audio of our interview:

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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