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A worker hangs from an oil derrick outside of Williston, N.D., on July 26, 2011. More than 1 million acres _ or 75 percent _ of available federal land in North Dakota has been leased for oil and gas development. What's left of the parcels are fetching jaw-dropping prices as drillers are attempting to lay claim to almost every acre in western North Dakota to exploit oil. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

ND leads region in federal oil, gas leases

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By James MacPherson

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Developers have bought the oil and gas rights to about three-fourths of the available federal land in western North Dakota, pushing prices to record levels despite industry complaints that the federal permitting process is still too onerous to immediately develop the land.

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