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North Dakota's oil output rose a bit in April, but the state is in danger of losing its status as the nation's second largest oil producer to New Mexico.

In 2012, after the shale oil boom, North Dakota moved into the No. 2 spot after Texas, supplanting Alaska. It has been there ever since.

"At best we are in a foot race with New Mexico. At worst they have displaced us as second," Lynn Helms, North Dakota's mineral resources director told reporters Monday. "New Mexico is coming on like gangbusters."

The most recent federal oil production report, which is for March, showed New Mexico at number two, with North Dakota close behind. Production has come back stronger from pandemic lows in New Mexico — in the prolific Permian shale oil basin — than in North Dakota.

In March, overall U.S. oil production posted a huge monthly gain, with output in New Mexico alone up 17.6% over February, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). New Mexico hit new records in oil and gas production in March, a recent EIA report said.

But North Dakota posted only a 1.4% gain in oil output in March over February, according to the EIA.

The state's own data showed a somewhat rosier picture than the federal numbers: a 2% increase in monthly oil production in March.

Moreover, New Mexico's own oil production report for March showed less output than North Dakota's state report for the same month, said Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority.

"North Dakota as far as I am concerned is the number two oil producer in the nation," he told reporters.

In April, North Dakota churned out 1.12 million barrels per day of oil, up 1% over March, according to data released Monday by the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources. North Dakota's natural gas production rose 3% in April compared with March.

New Mexico has yet to report full oil production data for April.

The oil industry in all states has gotten a big boost from a run-up in oil prices as the world economy bounces back from COVID-induced weaknesses.

The price of West Texas Intermediate — the benchmark U.S. oil price — has risen from just over $52 a barrel in late January to a post-COVID price of nearly $71 on Monday.

"Prices have improved dramatically," Helms said.