North Dakota's oil production fell 3.7% in January, continuing a slide that began last fall.

The nation's second-largest oil-producing state, North Dakota pumped out 1.15 million barrels per day in January, down from 1.19 million in December, the state reported Thursday.

North Dakota's natural gas output also fell from December to January, by 1.4%.

North Dakota oil production has been volatile since COVID-19 depressed demand and battered oil prices.

The state was producing at least 1.43 million barrels per day during the first quarter of 2020, but that number nose-dived to a seven-year low of 862,349 barrels per day in May.

As prices recovered somewhat, production gradually increased to 1.23 million barrels per day before falling again. Oil prices were essentially too low to drill new wells as output from older ones receded.

However, the scenario for drilling and fracking new wells has improved since January as oil prices have risen.

West Texas Intermediate — the benchmark U.S. crude — was trading around $66 per barrel Thursday, its highest mark since 2018. WTI's average price was about $52 in January.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003