May 12, 2017

ND Oil Industry Disappointed BLM Methane Rule Upheld

The US Senate, by a narrow 49-51 vote, failed to pass a resolution disapproving the Bureau of Land Management’s regulations requiring producers to capture methane emissions associated with oil production on public lands.

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven voted to repeal the rule. But Senator Heidi Heitkamp, along with all her fellow Democrat Senators and three Senate Republicans, voted to keep the rule despite industry objections.

Numerous organizations, including WDEA, had urged Senator Heitkamp to oppose the duplicative rule. In a March 24 letter to Sen. Heitkamp, WDEA President Daryl Dukart pointed out states are already regulating methane emissions.  Dukart noted that the state Industrial Commission three years ago approved rules which required operators to file plans to capture methane. The regulations have been effective, dropping North Dakota’s gas flaring rate as low as eight percent.

The Trump Administration will ultimately reverse the BLM methane regulation, but passage of the resolution would have prevented a future administration from implementing a similar rule.

Click here to read Myth vs. Fact on the BLM Methane Rule.

Click here to read a Dickinson Press article by Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service.

Click here to read an article from the Minot Daily News with more reaction to the Senate vote.
WDEA Participates in Counties’ Legislative Wrap-Up Session

Around 200 county commissioners and county employees from across North Dakota participated in a legislative wrap-up event Monday at the state Heritage Center. The gathering was organized by the ND Association of Counties.

WDEA Executive Director Geoff Simon delivered a presentation covering the top issues affecting counties in western North Dakota. Simon addressed oil impact funding issues, as well as legislation that streamlines the state’s pipeline siting process, and a bill that will enhance operation of WDEA’s Uniform Truck Permit System.

Representatives from NDACo’s lobbying team explained other significant legislation affecting counties, including Social Service funding, justice reform, property tax issues and public safety communications.

Click here to see the agenda and links to the presentations.
Lignite Research Council to Evaluate Four R&D Proposals at May Meeting

Four innovative lignite research projects will be evaluated at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, May 18, in the Senate/Chamber Room of the Bismarck Ramada Hotel. The review will be conducted by the Lignite Research Council – a board comprised of representatives from industry and government organizations.

The four projects seeking funding from the state of North Dakota are:

  • Rare Earth Elements – Phase II – The University of North Dakota’s Institute for Energy Studies is teaming with Barr Engineering and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to continue its study of the technical and economic feasibility of extracting rare earth elements as part of North Dakota lignite mining. 
  • Applying Coal Fly Ash to Shut Off Water and Increase Oil Production in Williston Basin – The University of North Dakota is proposing a project to develop a technology of using fly ash from lignite-based power plants to control excess water production and increase oil production from western North Dakota’s oil fields. 
  • Resource Recovery from a Coal-Fired Power Plant to Enhance Agricultural Production – North American Coal Corporation, Great River Energy and Knorr Farms are collaborating to create a research project to demonstrate the effectiveness of greenhouse agriculture and open field utilization of carbon dioxide in North Dakota. 
  • “VCCSTM Cycle” Carbon Capture & Utilization Technology – Phase II – Project participants will continue work toward building a VCCS Pilot Plant in a subsequent Phase III project, which would be deployed at Great River Energy’s Coal Creek Station. 

Read the full story from the Lignite Research Council here.

Trucks at Williston Use Electronics 
to Bypass Weigh Stations

PrePass-approved trucks will soon receive the green light to bypass weigh stations in North Dakota, according to HELP Inc., the non-profit provider of PrePass. Weigh stations at Mooreton and Williston will be the first sites in North Dakota to offer the truck safety electronic screening technology. The North Dakota Highway Patrol (NDHP) also will deploy mobile PrePass equipment at various locations around the state.

North Dakota becomes the 33rd state to offer PrePass bypassing to fleets using their roadways. PrePass is a service offered by HELP Inc., a public private partnership serving the trucking industry and state safety agencies by promoting highway safety and efficiency in commercial transportation.

Read more here.

North Dakota Gets First-in-the-Nation
CO2 Regulation

The Environmental Protection Agency has signed a proposed federal rule to approve the state of North Dakota’s application for regulatory primacy over Class VI injection wells, which are used for geological sequestration or long-term storage of CO2.

ND Senator John Hoeven met with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last week to press for approval of the request, which will provide regulatory certainty to advance carbon capture and sequestration technologies for both traditional and renewable energy sources. Pruitt signed the proposed rule to approve North Dakota’s application.  It will be published in the federal register and open to a 60-day public comment period before being finalized later this year.

Read more here from North American Shale with comments from Ron Ness.

Senator Hoeven's news release is here.
How Efficiency and New Technology
Pump Bakken Production 

Companies such as Continental Resources are increasing production without increasing the number of active wells.They are using several techniques to produce more oil, while decreasing costs.

A story this week in the Williston Herald details the results of increased recovery improving the profitability of existing wells.

Renee Jean's Williston Herald story is  here.
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Nationally, wells are producing more now than they were at the height of the oil boom. A single drilling rig currently deployed in one of North America’s major shale plays can drill double the footage in the same amount of time as a rig could two years ago.

Read more about big oil and the national scene here.
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Improving efficiency of oil production goes beyond drilling and extraction.  Companies have cut production costs with enhanced communication, including multiple cell phone apps.

Read more here.
PSC Schedules Hearings on Three Pipelines

The North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) will conduct a public hearing in Watford City next Friday, May 19, regarding a proposed pipeline project consisting of two separate lines in McKenzie County. Both pipelines will be installed in the same ditch and right-of-way, approximately 7.5 miles southeast of Watford City.

Click  here to learn more from the PSC.

Click here to read the Williston Herald story.

A proposed upgrade of a 150-mile segment of an interstate pipeline will be the subject of two public hearings in late July.

The decades-old pipeline, which runs from Laurel, Montana, to Fargo, is being upgraded from eight inches in diameter to 10 inches. The line, owned by Cenex Pipeline LLC, carries gasoline and diesel fuel to various sites along the route. ND PSC CommissionerJulie Fedorchak said the Montana portion of the upgrade has largely been completed. The hearing will focus on the segment from Sidney, MT to Minot.

Click here to read the Bismarck Tribune story.

PSC Approves Rule Changes
for Wind Project Decommissioning

New rules approved by the North Dakota Public Service Commission require decommissioning plans to be approved by the PSC before the operation of a facility. The rules also establish the time in which a company is allowed to complete decommissioning, and will require financial assurance for decommissioning of projects sited after July 1, 2017.

The PSC also recognized that the red blinking lights on wind towers are often unpopular with nearby residents. It adopted a lighting rule that allows preference to be given to projects that use light mitigation technology subject to commercial availability and Federal Aviation Administration approval. Since June 2016, the PSC has required projects to use systems which detect aircraft using radar. The red lights are only on when an aircraft is in the area.

The rule changes will be sent to the legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee for final approval.

Click here to read the PSC rule change document. 

Deadline Approaching to Sign Up for Crosby 2017 Celebration

Organizers of the Crosby 2017 Celebration are urging those planning to participate in the August 4-6 event to register soon.

With the June 1 registration deadline just three weeks away, the majority of registrants are from out of town, according to Steering Committee Chair Cecile Wehrman. The event will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Divide County Courthouse, and coincide with the dedication of a new courthouse addition.

Festivities planned as part of the celebration include alumni sports activities, building tours, a parade, two meals, sand volleyball, a fireworks show and a street dance.

Download more information and a registration form here, or register on-line here

Click here to read about celebration plans in the Crosby Journal.   
Quick Connect

Upcoming Events

May 15
Williston State of the City Address
Williston Area Recreation Center

May 16

May 19
Teddy's Residential Suites, Watford City

June 12-15
Lignite Energy Council Teacher Seminar
Bismarck, ND

June 19-22
ND Petroleum Council Teacher Seminar
Bismarck, ND

July 17-19
Bismarck Event Center

October 4-5
Raymond Family Community Center
Williston, ND
Oil prices and rig count

May 12, 2017

                                                      WTI Crude: $47.67
                                                   Brent Crude: $50.69
                                                     Natural Gas: $3.42

              North Dakota Active Rigs: 51 (up 1)        5/12/16 -- 27 rigs

Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

Mike Kopp, Editor
Mike Kopp, Mykuhls Photography, Photographs
Western Dakota Energy Association