September 1, 2017
Report: Trump to Visit Mandan Next Week

President Donald Trump will make his second visit to North Dakota next Wednesday, reportedly to talk about tax reform. There are indications he will also mention energy policy because he is expected to visit the Tesoro Refinery in Mandan.

Spokespersons for the White House and US Senator John Hoeven confirmed that Trump is planning to visit the Bismarck-Mandan area. Reports indicate about 500 people have been invited to hear the president speak.

Then candidate Trump spoke at the ND Petroleum Conference last May in Bismarck. More than 7,000 people paid to attend his speech at the Civic Center.

Read more about President Trump's visit here .  
MHA Nation Presses Oil Tax Issue

Tribal leaders on the Fort Berthold Reservation are pressing the State of North Dakota to resolve a dispute over oil taxation rates on production inside the borders of the reservation.

"Taxation is not about greed, it's about needs," said Mark Fox, Chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, in remarks Thursday before the state's Tribal Taxation Issues Committee.

Fox told Governor Doug Burgum and other members of the committee the MHA nation has seen a 65% drop in tax revenue since 2014. The Tribe is unhappy with a decision by the 2015 Legislature to reduce the oil extraction tax from 6.5% to 5.0%. The MHA Nation did not agree to the reduction, which Fox says is required in its 2013 tax sharing agreement with the state. The state and tribe share a 50-50 split of oil taxes collected on the reservation.

Fox said oil taxes represent nearly 90% of the budget available to the MHA Nation. He told the committee additional revenue is needed to maintain roads, provide law enforcement services and address other impacts of oil development.

Fox said MHA hopes to negotiate a settlement of the tax dispute, but said the Tribe is prepared to terminate the tax sharing agreement, and impose oil taxes that would be paid directly to the Tribe.
Williston Cuts the Ribbon
on New Wastewater Facility

Mayor Howard Klug and other city leaders cut the ribbon Thursday, officially opening the City of Williston's new Water Resources Recovery Facility.

City Administrator Dave Tuan describes the $105 million facility as one of the most technologically advanced in the region. In an interview this week on "News and Views with Joel Heitkamp," Tuan said the facilitiy is a really big deal for the city because it is sized to accommodate growth.

Click here to listen to Tuan's comments.

Click here to listen to the full News and Views interview.

Click here for a story from KFYR-TV.

Click here for Renee Jean's Williston Herald story on the Western Area Water Tour.
Legislators Look for Ways to Improve Education
The ND Legislature's interim Education Policy Committee met in Bismarck this week to begin its task of evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of the state's K-12 education system.
State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler provided committee members an overview of the Department of Public Instruction. DPI's budget for the 2017-19 biennium is $2.33 billion, about 83% of which is state aid to schools. The total also includes $255 million in federal grants to school districts, and $55 million for student transportation.
The policy committee is chaired by Senator Erin Oban, D-Bismarck. During an interview this week on "News and Views" with guest host Mac Schneider, Oban said the committee's basic charge is to identify opportunities to improve K-12 education.
Click here to listen to Senator Oban's comments. 

Click here to listen to the full News and Views interview.

A separate interim legislative committee is studying the state's education funding formula. That committee's next meeting is scheduled Sept. 21 in Bismarck.
Energy Committee in Tioga, Williston Next Week
The ND Legislature's interim Energy Development and Transmission committee will hold a two-day meeting next week to get a firsthand look at impacts of oil development, and discuss the state's responsibility to the Hub Cities dealing with those impacts.
The meeting begins Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 6, with a tour of oil production facilities in Williams County. Legislators will also tour Williston High School and the city's new wastewater treatment plant.
Thursday morning, the committee will hear from representatives of the City of Williston regarding infrastructure projects and the challenges they've faced related to industry expansion and population growth. The agenda also includes presentations from Williams County and the Williston Public School District, as well as a discussion by representatives of the oil and gas industry regarding the industry's impact on Williston.
The Sept. 7 meeting will be held at the Workforce Training Centre, 415 22nd Avenue NE, in Williston.

Click here to view the agenda.
EmPower Working on Electricity 101
Members of the EmPower ND Commission hope to provide state policymakers a better understanding of the electric generation industry, and how energy markets have changed in recent years.
Empower is reviewing a draft outline of a paper entitled "Electric Generation in North Dakota 101." The six-page document provides a detailed overview of the state's electric generation resources, reviews tax credits designed to incentivize wind generation, explains power market operations, and analyzes the perspectives of different industry players.
Concerns about threats to the reliability of the electric system prompted the introduction of legislation this year. Ultimately, legislators approved an interim study of the impacts of wind energy development.
The legislative debate over reliability surprised electric industry lobbyists, according to EmPower member Dale Niezwaag, VP of government relations for Basin Electric Power Cooperative. Niezwaag said the state can't legislate how the electric system operates because utilities have given up control to someone else -- a reference to the regional transmission organizations that now dispatch power from North Dakota's electric generation assets.
It's important legislators understand the supply of electricity is "a managed market, not a free market," according to EmPower member Jason Bohrer, President of the Lignite Energy Council.
Grid reliability is a topic of national concern. Click here to download a US Department of Energy report on Electricity Markets and Reliability. 
Lt. Gov Sanford and DMR Director Helms
Appointed to Federal Royalty Committee

Two North Dakotans are among a group of 38 people named to the US Interior Department's Royalty Policy Committee.

ND Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford will serve as the state's primary member, and Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms was named as his alternate. The appointments were announced this week by U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

The committee's purpose is to advise the Secretary on policy and strategies to improve management of the federal and American Indian mineral revenue program. The committee may also provide advice on potential impacts of policies and regulations related to revenue collection from energy and mineral development on public lands. Its first meeting will be held October 4.
Energy Wages Drop, But Still Impressive

Job Service of North Dakota reports that average wages in the state's energy sector were down slightly in 2016, but still remained well above wages earned in other sectors.

The average wage of workers engaged in Oil and Gas Extraction was $120,405 in 2016. Pipeline transportation employees fared even better, earning an average wage of $122,049. Oil and gas wages were down 2.7% from the previous year, while average pipeline wages dropped 1.1%.

By comparison, the average worker engaged in construction earned $64,542 last year. Manufacturing workers in North Dakota earned an average of $51,028 last year. The average truck driver earned $60,950 last year, down more than 10 percent from 2015 levels.

Click here to read the report from ND Job Service.

Thanks to the coal industry, Oliver County had the state's highest average wages. Oliver County's average wage was $71,719, edging out second place McKenzie County with $70,061.
Skills Initiative Offers Opportunity

The University of Mary, Williston State College and Train ND are partnering to provide North Dakotans access to post-secondary education, job training and even ways to explore a hobby.

The goal of McKenzie County's Skills Initiative is to make the area more attractive and marketable for businesses and residents by improving access to continuing education, workforce training, business development, and personal enrichment, according to Daniel Stenberg, McKenzie County Economic Development Coordinator.

Costs, starting dates, and enrollment information can be obtained by contacting any of the three training partners, or emailing Stenberg at
DAPL: Energy Groups Get Their Say

A federal judge is allowing national energy and manufacturing trade groups a chance to comment as he decides whether to shut down the Dakota Access oil pipeline while more environmental review is done.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg granted the request just days before Monday's final deadline for all parties involved in the legal dispute to weigh in with arguments.

The Standing Rock Sioux and three other American Indian tribes have been fighting the pipeline for more than a year, arguing that the $3.8 billion project threatens cultural sites and water supplies.

Click here for more details.
NDPC Hall of Fame Inductee Announced
Craig Smith, partner in the Crowley Fleck law firm in Bismarck, will be this year's inductee into the North Dakota Petroleum Council Hall of Fame at the association's annual meeting in Grand Forks.

Smith has practiced oil and gas law representing industry interests for the past 29 years. He has also been an active NDPC member, serving as a board member, executive committee member, and the association's chairman from 2010-2012.

Induction into the NDPC Hall of Fame is one of the top honors for leaders in North Dakota's oil and natural gas, associated service and midstream companies, and organizations supporting the industry.
Click here for more details about the NDPC meeting. Click here to see other NDPC HOF members.
Hoeven Wants Bakken Update from USGS

Senator John Hoeven met this week with William Werkheiser, acting director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), to seek an updated recoverable resource estimate for the Bakken region.

Hoeven arranged a meeting in Bismarck so Werkheiser could hear firsthand from energy leaders in the state about the latest technical achievements in the oil field.

“Oil production has remained near one million barrels a day in North Dakota, despite persistent, low oil prices,” Hoeven said. “That is a testament to the ingenuity of our state’s energy industry ... and why it is so important for Acting Director Werkheiser to meet with our producers, who can make a strong case for a new USGS study."

Updated estimates are vital for providing certainty to energy producers and encouraging investment in the Bakken, Hoeven said.

Hoeven spearheaded a similar effort that resulted in the latest USGS study from 2013, which more than doubled the estimates of technically recoverable, from 3.65 billion barrels to 7.4 billion barrels.
TR Expressway Assn Urging Public Input

The Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association (TREA) continues to stress the importance of transportation and its role in the rural regions along the Ports to Plains Corridor for economic development.

The association is working with staff members from the US House Transportation Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. TREA is encouraging North Dakotans to send written correspondence to US DOT and the Federal Highway Administration, asking that Hwy 85 be included in plans for major surface transportation improvements.

Click here to read TREA's quarterly report.
 Quick Connect

  • Harvey shuts down largest oil refinery in the US -- Daily Caller

  • Harvey damage could be worse if not for shale oil -- CNN Money

Factoid of the Week

North Dakota has 175 active K-12 public school districts, with 106,863 students, and 53 non-public schools with 6,573 students. Home-schoolers account for another 2,856 K-12 students. Fourteen districts have more than 1,000 students, 46 districts range in size from 300-1,000 students, and 115 districts have 299 or fewer students.

Upcoming Events
September 6-7
Tioga, Williston

September 8
ND CoalPAC Sporting Clay Shoot

September 18

September 26-28
Grand Forks

September 28-30

October 4-5
Raymond Family Community Center - Williston

October 8-10

November 1-2
Oil prices and rig count

September 1, 2017

WTI Crude: $47.30
Brent Crude: $52.74
Natural Gas: $3.06

       North Dakota Active Rigs: 56 (up 1)      9/1/16 -- 31 rigs
Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

Mike Kopp, Editor
Mike Kopp, Mykuhls Photography, Photographs