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Oil, gas industry optimistic amid pandemic

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The oil and gas industry, like many others, was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Travel restrictions worldwide left the oil and gas industry at a standstill.

Justin Kringstad of the North Dakota Pipeline Association said, “Over the last year, there was a tremendous drawdown or a decrease in the amount of oil that was being produced.”

However, as restrictions around the country are being lifted, demand is beginning to increase.

Ron Ness, the president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council said, “Production seems to have stabilized now at about 1.1 or 1.2 million barrels a day.”

He also says this upward trend is a relief after COVID-19 caused a massive dip in the price per barrel.

Kringstad said prices always tend to fluctuate, but nothing like in 2020.

He said, “The price of oil historically has always been a volatile market, and so certainly the last year, that volitivity was hitting extreme levels.”

Ness said restricted access to federal lands has affected the price of oil.

He said, “Shutting down access to federal lands, that has resulted in a price increase. I don’t know how long that price increase is going to hold.”

This has led to the North Dakota Legislature to raise their budget, having high hopes for the industry.

Brian Ritter of the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber EDC says this can help boost the economy of North Dakota cities that aren’t in the Bakken oil fields.

He said, “Anytime you’re generating that much more wealth from outside the state coming into western North Dakota, northern South Dakota or eastern Montana, chances are that revenue, or some of that money is going to end up in Bismarck and Mandan.”

He says this could come from various sources, such as hotels, air travel, and restaurants.

Ness, feeling optimistic, said, “We knew that we were going to operate with some bumps in the road, but we’re operating at a very high level. Obviously, lightyears above where we were 15 years ago.”

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