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North Dakota aims to use COVID-19 aid to plug oil wells


BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota wants to use more than $33 million in federal coronavirus aid to plug “orphaned” oil wells in the state.

State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms says 549 wells have been identified as abandoned in North Dakota’s oil-producing region, including about 10% that companies have walked away from in recent weeks due to low oil prices and sparse demand brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.

State and industry officials say the idea is both a jobs program for energy workers and an attempt to curb a growing problem in western North Dakota’s oil patch.

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