Not much snow is left on the face of Badlands hills in McKenzie County, and by next week, maybe even less  snow will be apparent as rain is forecast for next week.  It's going to get muddy.

Hub City bill defeated for now

The House of Representatives by a vote of 37-54 this week, defeated the so-called Hub Cities bill that would address oil industry impacts in Dickinson, Minot and Williston.  Despite the bill’s defeat, legislative leaders said the needs of western North Dakota communities will not be ignored. 

Click here to listen to House Majority Leader Al Carlson explain why action must wait until later in the legislative session.

The Hub City legislation would have set aside millions promised by the state to Williston’s new airport, but city officials say the defeat doesn’t mean disaster for the project.  The bill included $40 million for construction of the Williston Basin International Airport. It would be the final portion of the state’s contribution to the $250 million project. 

Click here for Williston Herald story on budget impact on airport 

Dickinson area legislators were not entirely discouraged by the defeat of HB 1366.  They took comfort in House leadership’s pledge to revisit the funding issue later in the session. 

Read the Dickinson Press story on the defeat of the Hub City bill 

Truck Permit Legislation Cruises Through House

Legislation that would help improve the operation of WDEA’s Uniform Truck Permit System passed the ND House this week on a unanimous 90-0 vote. HB 1320 does several important things including:

  • Establishing a truly uniform system by ensuring participation of all political subdivisions in a county.
  • Instructing the ND DOT and Highway Patrol to choose the most efficient routing, considering the impacts on city, county, township, and state roads.
  • Allowing negotiation of a separate road use agreement when a permit is denied.

Next stop for the legislation will be the Senate Transportation Committee.

--Geoff Simon

Legislation Addresses Mineral Rights Under Lake Sakakawea

The North Dakota House of Representatives will debate a bill next week that would establish who owns the rights to minerals under Lake Sakakawea.  HB 1199 , sponsored by Rep. George Keiser, R-Bismarck, would establish mineral rights ownership at the ordinary high water mark of the riverbed as it existed before the inundation of the channel.

Click here to listen to Rep. Keiser’s explanation of the bill.

--Geoff Simon

Pipeline Siting Legislation Would Supersede Local Zoning Authority

The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee gave unanimous approval this week to SB 2286, a bill the changes the current process under which the Public Service Commission sites oil and natural gas pipelines. 

The legislation essentially sets the PSC up as the local zoning board, taking that power away from the political subdivision.  The amended language compels the PSC to consider the factors that a local zoning board would consider in a hearing for a conditional use permit.  It requires the PSC to notify local zoning bodies when a permit application has been submitted, and allows local political subdivisions 10 days to provide the requested information about road access, right-of-way and other considerations. The bill will be debated on the Senate floor next week.

--Geoff Simon

Meridian announces MOU on proposed Davis Refinery products

Meridian Energy Group, Inc.entered into Memorandum of Understanding with local and regional petroleum product distribution firms, under which these firms will purchase and distribute up to 268 million gallons per year of refined products from the Davis Refinery, near Belfield. This is an important milestone for Meridian, since it represents over 67 percent of the design capacity of Davis Light.

Read the Meridian news release here

Oil drilling on federal land moves forward

The U.S. Forest Service's Dakota Prairie Grasslands McKenzie Ranger District is taking comments on a proposal from Newfield Production Company to drill the wells using an existing well pad and access road.

Click here for Prairie Business Story

Burgum orders emergency evacuation of pipeline protest camp

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum issued late Wednesday an emergency evacuation order for Dakota Access protesters still located in the floodplain, citing the threat of “injury or death” and “ecological disaster” from the rapidly melting snowpack.

The mandatory evacuation sets a deadline of 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, the same cut-off established by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for pipeline activists to leave the camp located on federal land at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers.

Washington Times story is here

Energy Transfer blames 'half-truths' about Dakota Access pipeline for business woes

Joey Mahmoud, an Energy Transfer executive vice president, told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that a "host of half-truths and misrepresentations" about the project have "inflicted significant financial and reputational damage on our company."

"Far from being an exception, I fear the aggressive tactics we have seen in North Dakota will soon be the norm — if they are not already," he said.

ND oil production fell 9 percent in December

The drilling rig count increased three from November to December, then decreased two from December to January, and is currently unchanged from January to today. Operators are shifting from running the minimum number of rigs to incremental increases throughout 2017, as long as oil prices remain between $50/barrel and $60/barrel WTI.

Marathon Oil plans more activity in Bakken

Marathon Oil expects to spend more as it ramps up activity in Oklahoma's Stack/Scoop and the Bakken Shale.  In the Bakken, Marathon Oil plans to focus on its highest return West and East Myrmidon areas and expects to average approximately six drilling rigs in the Bakken in 2017.

Click here to read Marathon Oil's projections
Energy Day to showcase the future of Oil & Gas in North Dakota’s economy

What lies ahead for the Bakken? How will world oil markets impact drilling and production in North Dakota?

Energy Day brings the numbers to the State Capitol on March 7th from 10 am to 1 pm in the Brynhild Haugland Room.

Click here to read more on the agenda for Energy Day

Register at

Quick Connect

Potential for seasonal highway load restrictions as early as next week. Minot Daily News story is here

Here's where Dakota Access Pipeline ends up -- Patoka, Illinois.  St Louis Public Radio story and photos are here

Counties such as Billings County and landowners use several weed control  programs on public and private land.  Farm and Ranch Guide Story is here

 Dickinson and Williston post largest drop in airport passenger boarding s.

Wind energy continues to grow in the U.S. Wind energy output now tops hydroelectric generation.  

North Dakota wind energy output grows.  Wind farm ouput increases along with wind turbine production at Grand Forks.  Bismarck Tribune story on growth in wind energy in ND

ND Information Technology Dept. says state's emergency radio systems may be failing

Upcoming Events

February 18, 2017

February 20, 21, 2017
5th Annual Reclamation Conference
Dickinson, ND

February 22, 2017
Mountrail County 2017 Frost Law Meeting
10:00 AM
South Complex Community Hall, Stanley

February 28, 2017
Williams County Road Information and Frost Law Meeting
Williams County Highway Complex

March 7, 2017
North Dakota Petroleum Council Legislative Social
  BSC NECE, Bismarck

May 2-4, 2017
Williston Basin Petroleum Conference Regina, SK, Canada

Oil prices and rig count
February 17, 2017

WTI Crude: $53.17
                                                   Brent Crude: $55.59
                                                 Natural Gas: $32.84

              North Dakota  Active Drills: 40 (up 5)        2/17/16 -- 40 rigs

Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

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