July 7, 2017

Pipeline Ruling Could Have
Huge Impact on North Dakota

Federal Judge James Boasberg is expected to make a ruling later this year regarding potential environmental impacts of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Boasberg ruled last month that the Army Corps of Engineers "did not consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, human rights, or environmental justice" regarding the Standing Rock Tribe. The judge is expected to issue a ruling that will decide if DAPL must be shut down while additional environmental reviews are conducted.

Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, said the case has huge implications for the state. During an interview this week on the radio program, What’s on Your Mind, Kringstad said a DAPL shutdown would create serious problems for North Dakota oil producers.

Click here to listen to Kringstad’s comment.

Kringstad said the start-up of DAPL has meant literally millions of dollars per day for the state’s economy, and its oil producers and royalty owners.

Click here to listen to Kringstad’s comment.

DAPL is operated by Energy Transfer Partners, which built the $3.8 billion pipeline to move crude from the Northern Plains to refineries in the Midwest and the Gulf Coast.

Former MnDOT Commissioner to Lead NDDOT

Gov. Doug Burgum announced today he has appointed Thomas Sorel, a former Minnesota Department of Transportation commissioner, to lead the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) starting August 7.

Sorel served as Minnesota’s transportation commissioner from 2008-2012. Prior to that, he had a 30-year career with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. Sorel served as administrator of its St. Paul Division from 2005 to 2008 and received a presidential honor for his leadership related to the I-35W bridge collapse response.

NDDOT has more than 1,000 employees, a two-year budget of $1.2 billion and a $465 million construction program for this season.

Click here to read Governor Burgum's news release.
Important Permit Meeting July 13 in Williston

Members of WDEA's Uniform Truck Permit System are strongly encouraged to send representatives to a meeting of the advisory committee July 13 in Williston.

The meeting begins at 1:30 pm at the Williams County Highway Complex. Attendees will learn about the system name change and see a demonstration of system enhancements. 

The sheriff (or designee) and one Commissioner (or designee) from each county/city have voting rights on the permit committee.

Members are asked to RSVP via email to  janet@ndteamworks.com.
Energy Transfer Fights Artifacts Fine

A dispute over whether the Texas-based developer of the Dakota Access Pipeline improperly reported the discovery of Indian artifacts will linger into the fall.

Energy Transfer Partners has been battling since November when state regulators filed a complaint and proposed a $15,000 fine. The complaint came after the Public Service Commission was notified by a third-party inspector that pipeline crews last October had diverted construction of the pipeline around Native American artifacts. The company had obtained the approval of the State Historic Preservation Office but not of the PSC.

The artifacts weren't disturbed and ETP maintains it didn't intentionally do anything wrong.

Click here to read the AP story in U.S. News and World Report.
State Shuts off Little Missouri River to Oil Companies
The drought has become so severe in western North Dakota that one source of water used for well drilling and fracking is no longer available. The Little Missouri River had been open to temporary industrial use from the Long X Bridge on Highway 85 to the mouth of the river at Lake Sakakawea.

Jon Patch, Director of Appropriations for the ND State Water Commission, said use was cut off when the river dropped below a 30 cubic feet per second (cfs) trigger.  Patch said projections for the river show a continued decrease in water levels well below the 30 cfs level. "But if the river level goes back up above 30 cfs, it may be re-opened," he said.

Oil companies can still use water depots along the river that have stored water to be distributed, but the depots cannot restock their supply from the Little Missouri River.

As a result of the shutoff, water trucks that have used the Long X Road near Watford City and Killdeer, or other roads to access the Little Missouri River, will now be hauling water from other sources.
ND Drought Conditions Worsen

Almost the entire state of North Dakota is at least abnormally dry, two-thirds of the state is in moderate drought, while 46.9 percent is in extreme drought.

A heat wave from the Northern Plains to parts of the Northern Rockies and Great Basin shows little sign of relenting over the next week or so. Known as a flash drought for its relatively rapid development, the Northern Plains drought developed quickly by late May over a sizable swath of eastern Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Click here to get the Plains States perspective.

The New England ND Fire and Rescue Department is asking farmers to be prepared to help if a fire breaks out. The department wants farmers to have a tractor and disc ready to go in case a grass fire starts in their area. The department is also asking farmers to fill sprayer tanks so extra water is on hand if needed. 

Click map above or click here to see current North Dakota drought map.
Member’s Voice – Dickinson
Six-Month Building Permits Top All of 2016

Dickinson has the infrastructure in place to cope with recent growth, and now it’s filling it in.

City Administrator Shawn Kessel, a WDEA board member, said that the number of building permits issued by the city in the first six months of 2017 tops the number of permits issued in all of 2016.

“We’re seeing more single-family dwellings being built in areas where the infrastructure is already there,” Kessel said.

How will Dickinson pay for maintaining the new miles of city streets? Click  here to read the full Member's Voice story.

Stark County's Road Department is dealing with drought issues.  Click here to read more from the Dickinson Press.

US Department of Interior Eases
Permitting Process for Oil and Gas

Senator John Hoeven said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has signed a secretarial order to streamline the permitting process for mineral leases on federal lands.

"This will help the Interior Department address the backlog of onshore oil and gas permit applications," Hoeven said.

The Dickinson office of the Interior Department has 488 applications for permits to drill (APD).  As of January 31, 2017, the BLM had 2,802 APDs pending. 

“Secretary Zinke’s order is an important step in providing regulatory relief for our energy industry,” Hoeven said. “This is especially important for western states and tribes, where federal red tape and delays hamper local development.”  Read Hoeven's full statement by clicking here.

Interior Secretary Zinke's statement is here.

Rail Inspection Program Could be Scrapped

The end of the line may be in sight for a North Dakota safety program aimed at lowering the risk of disastrous train derailments involving the state's crude oil.

The pilot program, which includes two rail safety inspectors and a manager to supplement inspections by the  Federal Railroad Administration, is halfway through its four-year run and likely will be scrapped in two years, said House Majority Leader Al Carlson and his Republican Senate counterpart, Rich Wardner.

James Macpherson's Associated Press story is here
North Dakota Asks for More Data
in Meridian Refinery Proposal

A North Dakota agency has asked the developer of the proposed Davis Refinery to provide more data to support its claims about emissions levels.

Officials of Meridian Energy Group Inc. claim the Davis Refinery near Belfield would be the “cleanest refinery on the planet.” But in a letter to the company, the state Department of Health says there’s no data showing the company’s emission level estimates for a number of pollutants have been achieved or maintained at an existing refinery.

Click here for Associated Press story.

The North Dakota State Water Commission has approved a permit for the Davis Refinery, but it's for less water than requested. Amy Dalrymple's Bismarck Tribune story is here.

Clean Coal Gets a Push
from ND Congressional Delegation

North Dakota’s congressional delegation is pushing for funding to research clean coal technology. The Bismarck Tribune reports the request goes against President Donald Trump’s budget proposal that includes steep cuts for research that could advance the industry.

“We cannot leave coal behind as a resource for generation of electricity, but we’ve got to do it in a way that guarantees its future,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. Rep. Kevin Cramer, a member of the Congressional Coal Caucus, also urges more funding.  Sen. John Hoeven recently secured a commitment from Energy Secretary Rick Perry to support pilot and demonstration projects for capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide.
ND Coal Industry May Supply
Valuable Rare Earth Elements

North Dakota coal companies are hoping to have a hand in solving the nation's supply problem of rare earth elements such as europium, dysprosium, erbium, terbium, neodymium, holmium, scandium, lutetium and yttrium.

"They're used in pretty much all of our modern electronics," said Steve Benson, associate vice president for research at the Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks.

Click here to read Dickinson Press Story.
Underwood's Blue Flint Ethanol Marks 10 years

A decade ago a new energy plant was constructed just off Highway 83 south of Underwood. The Blue Flint ethanol plant was built at a cost of $95 million. It was designed to produce 50 million gallons per year using steam generated from the coal-fired Coal Creek power plant next door. The ethanol plant helped grow a corn production industry for farmers in the region.

Today, Blue Flint produces more than 70 million gallons a year and uses about 24 million bushels of corn.

Click here to read more.
Factors behind increase in natural gas prices

The U.S. natural gas market has rebalanced with higher prices steadying production, while reducing demand from electricity generators and making room for increased exports.

Coal-fired power plants were the main beneficiaries of higher natural gas prices, increasing their electricity generation by almost seven percent.

Click here to read John Kemp's analysis from Reuters.
Factors Affecting Oil Prices

Oil traders say geopolitical tensions in the Korean peninsula are underpinning the market, while prices remain capped due to ample supply despite OPEC’s attempt to curtail production.

U.S. shale will not continue to grow at a rapid clip with oil prices below $45 per barrel. The EIA  reports that U.S oil production dipped 100,000 bpd for the week ending June 23, the largest weekly decline in over a year. Read more here.

Click here to see the Baker Hughes rig count chart.
 Quick Connect

Factoid of the Week

The US Geological Survey estimates that unconventional U.S. oil shale resources hold 2.6 trillion barrels of oil, with about 1 trillion barrels that are considered recoverable under current economic and technological conditions. These 1 trillion barrels are nearly four times the amount of oil resources as Saudi Arabia’s proven oil reserves—a large enough supply for more than 140 years at current rates of US consumption.

Source: I nstitute for Energy Research

Upcoming Events

July 13
WDEA Uniform Truck Permit Advisory Committee

July 16-18
North Dakota Township Officers Association Conference
Grand Forks

July 17-19
Bismarck Event Center

July 18
Bakken Rocks CookFest

July 19
Energy of North Dakota Fishing Derby
Four Bears Casino and Marina, New Town

July 20
Bakken Rocks CookFest

July 24
ND Oil PAC Dugout Night 

July 27
NC Lignite Coal PAC Golf Tournament
Bismarck and Washburn golf courses

August 3
Lignite Research Council

August 24
ND CoalPAC Coal Country Classic Ride

September 8
ND CoalPAC Sporting Clay Shoot

October 4-5
7th Annual Bakken Oil Product & Service Show
Raymond Family Community Center -  Williston
Oil prices and rig count

July 7,  2017

                                                      WTI Crude: $44.34
                                                   Brent Crude: $46.86
                                                     Natural Gas: $2.87

              North Dakota Active Rigs: 56 (down 2)        7/7/16 -- 30 rigs
Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

Mike Kopp, Editor
Mike Kopp, Mykuhls Photography, Photographs