For months, low oil prices have contributed to the slowdown, as a global decline in demand made it financially unfeasible for refiners in North Dakota to continue tapping new wells. Another blow came Tuesday: an unexpected 7.6 percent dip in U.S. benchmark prices that sent economic shock waves worldwide.
The fluctuations could not have come at a worse time for North Dakota, which has also emerged as one of the country’s most concerning coronavirus hot spots, with a nation-leading 34 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents, according to a Washington Post analysis of state data.
The dual economic and epidemiological shock now facing the state has created new uncertainty for its residents, workers, businesses and government leaders, some of whom once seemed optimistic that they had weathered the worst of the pandemic.
“The onset of [coronavirus] and the complete crushing of the world demand for oil had a very dramatic effect,