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Oil well

An oil well pumps at sunrise in western North Dakota's Bakken Formation.

Oil production in North Dakota was steady in April and stayed just below a record set earlier this year, state regulators said Friday, while natural gas production again soared to an all-time high.

The state produced 1.39 million barrels of oil per day in April, just a hair below March's average, the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources said.

North Dakota, the country's No. 2 oil producer, hit a record of 1.4 million barrels per day in January.

But Director of Mineral Resources Lynn Helms raised "very significant" worries over a recent drop in oil prices. His report pegged Friday's price for a barrel of North Dakota light sweet crude at $40.50, down $10 from May.

Helms said the drop "puts us right at" the state's revenue forecast.

"We'll be watching that very closely," he said, adding that operators are "very concerned about these oil prices and about the potential for oversupply and more deterioration in the prices."

Meanwhile, the state produced a record 2.86 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in April, up less than 1% from March.

But operators flared 19% of that gas, well above the North Dakota Industrial Commission's goal of 12%. The three-member commission is chaired by Gov. Doug Burgum and oversees oil regulation in the state.

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Helms noted that operators captured gas at a slightly higher rate in April than they did in March.

"We will gladly take those incremental improvements in 2019 as we expect that this build-out of infrastructure to get us back into full compliance by the end of the year," he said.

The number of producing wells hit 15,490 in April, which was a record.

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