- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s top oil regulator says there is a “little bit of gloom but no doom” for the state’s petroleum industry.

Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms told the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday that low oil prices already have halted several rigs in the past month. Helms says the current rig count stands at 166. He expects that number to drop to about 150 in the next several months if oil prices continue to slide.

North Dakota sweet crude was fetching about $50 a barrel this week. That’s a more-than-five-year low.

Helms says he expects production to remain steady over the next several months as companies focus on regions where drilling for oil is easier and more profitable.

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