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Nuverra

A truck dumps drill cuttings at Nuverra Environmental Solutions' Watford City processing plant earlier this year.

A major Bakken company that supports oil drilling and production is feeling a significant impact from the retreat of rigs from the oil patch.

Cary Longie, Nuverra Environmental Solutions’ president of Bakken region operations, said the company which handles drilling muds and production water for disposal and leases specialized equipment, has not been insulated from the downturn. It has responded with a 20 percent reduction in its workforce across all operations affecting about 400 employees.

The company has its roots in the former Watford City-based Power Fuels, which merged with the Heckmann Corp. to form Nuverra. The company’s stock has plummeted from more than $15 a share in September 2014 to just more than $1.40 today. It also reported a 27 percent decline in earnings in its Bakken operation compared to last year at the same time.

The drop in rig count from around 190 in December to the 68 rigs drilling now has been the most significant factor in the overall decline, according to Longie, who said the company is somewhat buffeted from the rig factor because about half of its business is based on hauling and disposing produced saltwater from existing wells, with the other half based on drilling and well drilling completion work.

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The company’s third-quarter results will be announced in early November.

Nuverra spokeswoman Liz Merritt said the company anticipates a slow and methodical recovery into 2016.

Such news is an increasingly familiar story in the oil patch. Last week, as required by a federal notification act, Baker Hughes announced it had terminated 117 jobs in its Dickinson office. Other companies, including Halliburton, Schlumberger and ConocoPhillips, have announced layoffs, but not Bakken-specific numbers. Halliburton is down 16,000 employees in its international operations and more cuts are coming, primarily in North America, its spokesman said. Halliburton and Baker Hughes, the second- and third-largest oil field service companies in the business, are planning a merger.

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(Reach Lauren Donovan at 701-220-5511 or lauren@westriv.com.)

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