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Top 5 Bakken stories of the week

In case you missed them, here are the top five stories from Bakken.com for the week of August 16th through August 21st. Enjoy!

5. U.S. approves landmark crude oil export swaps with Mexico

Oil pump jacks are seen next to a strawberry field in Oxnard, California February 24, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Oil pump jacks are seen next to a strawberry field in Oxnard, California February 24, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration will allow limited sales of U.S. crude to Mexico for the first time, a senior administration official told Reuters, marking another milestone in loosening a contentious ban on exporting domestic oil.

The Commerce Department is “acting favorably on a number of applications” to export U.S. crude in exchange for imported Mexican oil, the official said. Such oil swaps are one of several possible exemptions allowed in the four-decade-old law that otherwise bans most overseas shipments. To read the full article, click here.

4. North Dakota’s $18.5 billion cash fortress

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Despite the precipitous drop in oil prices, North Dakota has increased savings by $3 billion over the past 12 months.

Bakken.com recently conducted an analysis of over 80 North Dakota funds and calculated the most recent balances to be in excess of $18.5 billion (see infographic). This represents a 22 percent increase from $15.5 billion in 2014 and a 125 percent increase from $8 billion in 2011. To read the full article, click here.

3. In downturn, North Dakota’s oilfield firms jostle for tiniest of jobs

A service truck drives past an oil well on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, November 1, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen

A service truck drives past an oil well on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, November 1, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen

WILLISTON, N.D. – Oilfield service companies eager for work amid plunging crude oil prices <CLc1> have until the end of Wednesday to bid for a guaranteed job: plugging a North Dakota well abandoned by a producer closing up shop in the No. 2 U.S. oil patch.

Whichever oilfield service company does the plugging, be it Halliburton Co <HAL.N>, Schlumberger NV <SLB.N> or another firm, the job could bring in more than $20,000.

While that’s far less than the millions they have received to drill and fracture wells in years past, the more-than 70 percent drop in oil prices <CLc1> since last summer means no job is too small. To read the full article, click here.

2. Breaking even: Bakken still profitable, but barely

Image: gfpeck via Flickr

Image: gfpeck via Flickr

The oil price crash just can’t keep a good shale driller down. According to a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis, parts of North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation continue to be profitable at less than $30 per barrel, half the amount of some predictions gave last year when prices began to drop.

As companies tap larger wells and reap the benefits of decreased costs, the profit margins continue to shrink, one reason why U.S. oil production has maintained its 40-year high, even though crude prices fell by over half since last year. David Hackett, president of Stillwater Associates LLC, an Irving, California-based energy consulting firm, told Bloomberg, “One of the explanations for why production hasn’t fallen off is that the cost has gone down so much. The marginal cost to produce has shrunk pretty dramatically with the drop in prices. The efficient drillers are now able to take advantage.” To read the full article, click here.

1. Uncertain outlook as North Dakota tops 10,000 shale oil wells

REUTERS/Andrew Cullen/files

REUTERS/Andrew Cullen/files

North Dakota surpassed a milestone in June — its 10,000th shale oil well — amid a still-gloomy outlook for its petroleum industry.

The industry, facing continued low crude oil prices, is finishing off previously drilled wells to get oil and some revenue flowing and to meet regulated completion timetables, state officials said Friday. But the number of rigs drilling new wells declined again.

Oil producers using hydraulic fracturing completed 149 oil wells in the Bakken or Three Forks plays in June, bringing the total to 10,113. The state also has more than 2,700 legacy wells from before the shale boom. To read the full article, click here.

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