Keeping the roads open in a blizzard
Contributed photo from Mary Tastad/Mary's Photos
State and local road crews put in tremendous hours this week clearing roads and helping motorists.  Here a snow plow driver gives a tow truck driver directions to a motorist stalled on closed section of Highway 200A.

Dangerous wind chill temperatures followed a one-two blizzard punch this week.  Cities, counties and the state worked nearly non-stop Monday through Thursday keeping roads open. Nearly 300 miles stretch of interstates were closed on Tuesday in North Dakota. 

A big thank you to all the people who worked to keep the roads open for the rest of us.

Congratulations to McKenzie County's new Economic Development Coordinator,  Daniel Stenberg.  He gives us this week's Members Voice.

Looking forward to talking to you when we call you for next week's Members Voice.  


What are your thoughts about the newsletter format?  The goal is to make it a quicker read for you.  If you see a story you want to read, click on it and the full story opens.
Dalrymple Proposes $4.8 Billion Budget for 2017-19 Biennium

Governor Jack Dalrymple's plan calls for continuing the 70-30 split of oil production tax revenue between the state and oil producing counties. He said that will amount to approximately $750 million divided among counties and tribal government.

Although down considerably from the past two years, the governor proposes hefty spending on infrastructure projects totaling $1.3 billion. The largest portion of that is $725 million for North Dakota Department of Transportation road projects.

Dalrymple also proposed spending nearly $320 million for water projects, including support for the Western Area Water Supply Project, Northwest Area Water Supply, the Southwest Pipeline Project as well as other municipal and rural water projects.

The budget calls for creation of a $200 million school construction loan fund, enabled by the passage of Measure 2 on the November ballot. 

Click here for the Office of Management and Budget full content of the budget

10-Year plan for Williams County truck reliever route
Williams County's long-term plans call for more truck routes around the city. Williams County is looking 10 years in to the future for the route, but at this time, they do not know exactly where the route will go.

Click here to read more from the Williston Herald
PSC reclamation wins award
Moody’s Analytics: Difficult to Predict State Revenue

Calling it “the most difficult forecast ever,” Dan White, senior economist for Moody’s Analytics, delivered its state revenue predictions to the Budget Section of the North Dakota Legislature on Wednesday.

“The past is no longer a good indicator of the future,” White said. His firm has rebuilt all its economic forecasting models in an attempt to capture “changing statistical relationships.”

White said the oil boom is gone, and now the bust is on its way out, so Moody’s is developing new assumptions about future market conditions.

The revenue forecast predicts oil prices on the WTI index will climb through the $50/barrel mark and reach $61/barrel by July 2019.  Moody’s also expects the state will see an increase in the number of active oil drilling rigs in North Dakota, climbing from the current 38 rigs to 50 in Fiscal Year 2018. 

Click here to read the rest of the story on Moody's Forecast
  Vision West gets final population projection   

Geoff Simon, Executive Director WDEA, (far left) listens to NDSU researcher Dean Bangsund on oil field population workforce projections and how it impacts western city infrastructure and housing units at Vision West ND meeting in Dickinson        Also in photo, Nancy Hodur, NDSU,  and Consortium Vice-Chair Buster Langowski

NDSU researchers Dean Bangsund and Nancy Hodur delivered their final report on population scenarios for western N.D. Bakken oil communities Thursday in Dickinson to the Vision West ND consortium.

Bangsund said they have three levels of oil price that drive population numbers- the low price of $25-$60 will give western communities about a 1-2% population increase which will be much more manageable than the growth in 2010-2014. 

Bangsund said 20,000 jobs were cut with the oil price decline in western N.D.

Click here to read the full summary of the population study
Could ferry service return to Lake Sakakawea?
Ferries such as this are used elsewhere in the U.S. It's estimated starting one to cross Lake Sakakawea could cost $16.4 million

Mark Resner, Mott, N.D., reported on the $125,000 USDA/REAP funded study for ferry costs on Lake Sakakwea.   Shirley Brentrup, REAP advisor,  met with tribal members and they do not want a bridge in that location.

The ferry is also being considered by MHA Nation along with water taxis to connect Twin Buttes segment in northern Dunn county with Parshall, N.D. in southern Mountrail county.  MHA Nation received a TIGER federal grant to look at buses, along with other types of transportation alternatives.

Resner said a used ferry could cost about $6 milllion.  They run for 60 years.  The ferry could operate from April to December depending on the weather.  It would carry only passenger cars, possibly 14-20 cars, 30 passengers at a cost of $10 each trip.  The projected annual revenues would cover the cost of the operation once the dock and boat were purchased. 

Right of way would need to be re-purchased, according to Resner, north of Twin Buttes.  There would be 10 miles that would need to be built from Twin Buttes north to the ferry through badlands buttes.  The current road has not been maintained.  Total cost of the capital improvements for just the ferry operation is estimated at $16.4 million.  A bridge in the same location would cost about $400 million.

A car ferry project at Lake Sakakwea would need 80% grants for both the land infrastructure and car ferry capital costs in order to operate viably, according to the Ulteig study submitted by Bob Youness.

Here is the link to the Ferry study
  Member's Voice -- McKenzie  County EDC steps up Quality of  Life
McKenzie County
McKenzie County Economic Development has a new coordinator. Daniel Stenberg moved over to EDC from the Long X Visitor Center and museum. "Quality of Life is part of my plans," Stenberg said. Health care, roads and water projects have been at the top of the list of priorities and they're still getting much focus from the county.  
"We've successfully upgraded many of those things, "Stenberg said. "As people move in to the county, Quality of life becomes more importance as families move in to the area."

Stenberg said the region is still very busy. As hockey season ramps up, Watford City sees more visitation and more business at the hotels and restaurants.  He said oil activity slowed down, but did not disappear and in recent weeks, it felt like there was more oil activity returning to the county.

The new Roughrider Event Center is a big hit with parents since it serves as a recreation and sports center for all the schools. He said parents like being able to use just one building in one location for their children's activities in the different grades. He said the tunnel, connecting the Event Center to the new High School is a welcome addition as winter winds sweep across town.

McKenzie County is the largest county in the state, nearly 3,000 square miles which makes it larger than states such as Rhode Island or Delaware.  The week's wind and snow covered thousands of miles of roads in the county. Stenberg said the central part of the state got it worse than McKenzie County, but it was still a challenge for the county and state road crews to serve the population. In many cases, private companies took care of clearing roads near their work sites.

In February, Watford City will hold a special election to replace outgoing mayor Brent Sanford who becomes the Lieutentant Governor. At the end of the week, there was one candidate for the position. Petitions with 40 names are needed to get on the ballot.

Upcoming Events
December 14 2016
Coal Conversion Counties Assoc (CCC)
Lewis and Clark Interp Center, Washburn.  
Social at 5:30  
Meal at 6:00

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

Oil prices and rig count
December 9, 2015

WTI Crude: $51.50
                                                        Brent Crude: $54.33
                                                     Natural Gas: $3.75

              North Dakota  Active Drills: 40 (Up 1)        12/09/15 -- 65 rigs

Vicky Steiner
Editor/Executive Director

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