July 28, 2017
Drought Disaster Declared

Gov. Doug Burgum has declared a drought disaster for nearly all of North Dakota, paving the way for additional response and assistance from state and federal agencies.

The U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly report rates nearly 46 percent of North Dakota in extreme or exceptional drought, up from 40 percent last week. About 16 percent of the state is in severe drought and 18 percent is in moderate drought.

Burgum signed an executive order late Wednesday declaring a drought disaster for counties and tribal nations experiencing drought conditions. The declaration directs state officials to coordinate with federal agencies to make appropriate drought response programs available, and authorizes the ND National Guard to provide personnel and equipment to support drought response efforts.

Click here to view the North Dakota drought monitor page.

Click here to read story about reduction in small grain harvest. 
Gov. Burgum to Form Education Task Force

As a follow-up to his recent Summit on Innovative Education, Governor Doug Burgum plans to assemble a task force to look for ways to lower costs and improve outcomes for North Dakota students.

Levi Bachmeier, the governor's K-12 policy advisor, told members of the legislature's Interim Education Funding Committee that staff are working to define the scope and mission of the task force, and hope to announce its members at the start of the school year.

"Our goal is to do a better job of recognizing and supporting those schools committed to providing a 21st Century learning experience," Bachmeier said.

He said the task force will represent a broad group of stakeholders including teachers, administrators, PTA members, school board members and others. 
Industrial Commission Seeks
Bids on WAWS Study

The state of North Dakota is requesting proposals to investigate the feasibility of selling or leasing the industrial water supply assets of the Western Area Water Supply Authority (WAWS).

The 2017 Legislature authorized the study and appropriated $150,000 to pay for it. The ND Industrial Committee issued the RFP at its meeting last week. State Engineer Garland Erbele told members of the legislature's interim Water Topics Committee that bids will be reviewed when NDIC meets again August 18. Erbele said the contract period would begin October 1 and run through March 2018.

The scope of work is based on language in Section 11 of HB 1020, the budget bill of the state Water Commission. The legislation specifies that the study "provide information regarding the financial impact to WAWS, its members and customers, the financial viability of the authority, and options available to the authority for debt servicing."

Proposals will be reviewed by an advisory committee that includes Erbele, state OMB Director Pam Sharp, NDIC Director Karlene Fine, Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms, and Lt. Governor Brent Sanford.  
Highway 200 Project Nearing Completion

Construction improvements on a 20-mile section of Highway 200 between Killdeer and Hwy 85 are nearly finished.
North Dakota DOT officials say improving safety on the heavily-traveled road was a top priority. The $48 million project not only widened the road and shoulders, it also includes numerous turn lanes and passing lanes.
The project is expected to be completed before fall freeze up.
Click here to see video and story from KX News. 
McKenzie County Gas Plant Approved

The ND Public Service Commission approved a siting permit this week for expansion of Oasis Midstream's Wild Basin Gas Plant in McKenzie County.

The plant, about six miles northeast of Watford City, currently processes 80 million cubic feet (mcf) of natural gas per day, and can stabilize up to 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Oasis plans to increase capacity to process 280 mcf per day of gas, stabilize up to 80,000 barrels of crude per day and add a 150,000 barrel crude storage tank to accommodate additional oil gathering. 

The expansion project is estimated to cost $150 million. The facility will still need to get an air emissions permit from the state Department of Health.

Click here to read a news release from the PSC.

Click here for Forum News Service story. 
Whiting 2Q Numbers Reflect Bakken Performance

Enhanced completion processes are paying off for Whiting Petroleum, which announced 23% growth (59 MMBOE) in proved reserves from year-end 2016 levels.

Based on planned capital expenditures, Whiting production should grow by 14% from Q1 2017 to Q4 2017, according to President and CEO James J. Volker. 

"A large component of this growth is driven by the effect of enhanced completions in the Williston Basin," he said."

The company reports it has drilled a total of 69 enhanced completion wells the past 18 months. Each well uses at least seven million pounds of frac sand per well, with higher numbers of stages and new diverter techniques. On average, these wells are exceeding the company’s 1 MMBOE type curve.

“These wells deliver strong rates of return, even at a $40 NYMEX oil price," Volker said.  

Click here to see Whiting's Second Quarter report.
US Shale Boom Has Devastated Canada

Booming energy production from hydraulic fracturing operations in US shale plays has hurt Canadian oil and gas projects, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Canadian energy projects have become less competitive than their U.S. equivalents for a variety of reasons, including tightening regulations, long approval processes and environmentalist opposition. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attempts to expand energy exports while reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions has further complicated the issue.

Petroliam Nasional announced it was cancelling a $27 billion liquefied natural gas export project this week due to an “extremely challenging environment” for business. This followed a slew of sell-offs by major oil companies, including ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell, liquidating more than $20 billion in Canadian oil assets.

Click here for additional details from Bloomberg News.
US natural gas reserves at 52-year high

The nation's natural gas supply has reached its highest level in 52 years, according to a research committee funded by the industry.

The Potential Gas Committee pegged the nation's total technically recoverable natural gas reserves at 2,817 trillion cubic feet in 2016, about a 300 Tcf increase from its 2014 assessment. The number is almost 500 trillion barrels of crude oil equivalent.

Read more on the story  here.
Trump Aims to Scrap BLM Fracking Rule

The Trump Administration plans to rescind an Obama-era regulation for fracking on public and tribal lands, arguing the rule is overly burdensome and duplicative.

The Interior Department unveiled its plan in a Federal Register notice this week. The proposal concludes that the 2015 Bureau of Land Management rule triggered "unjustified" compliance costs - $32 million to $45 million a year for oil and gas operators - that are not in line with Trump's goals to boost domestic energy production.

The fracking rule has been the subject of nonstop legal friction since it was finalized more than two years ago. Industry groups, several Western states and American Indian tribes say state and tribal officials are already adequately regulating fracking.

Click here to read more from E&E Publishing.
  EPA, Army Corps to Roll Back WOTUS Rule

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers opened a comment period this week on their proposal to rescind the Waters of the US rule, which defines the federal government's permitting jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement. “This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine ‘waters of the U.S.,’ and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”

Click here to read more from Agri-Pulse.

New Williams County offices near completion

The Williston Herald reports that work on Williams County’s 27,000-square-foot addition is nearing completion.

The new Law Enforcement Center offices will be ready for occupancy by August 1. The jail and the addition to the Williams County Administration Building will be finished by August 31.

County spokeswoman Melody Mileur said the administration building is about two weeks off its projected schedule due to weather complications, but not behind schedule yet. The jail and law enforcement facility are exactly on schedule.

Read Renée Jean's Williston Herald Story here.
Bowman's Struggling Hospital Seeks
$1 Million in Assistance from County

The Bowman Hospital, Southwest Healthcare, is losing money and is asking Bowman County for $1 million. The hospital's financial struggles have been a topic of conversation in Bowman since earlier this month.

In the last four weeks, we have made some significant staff reductions, and that’s the toughest part of the job,” said Interim CEO John Osse.

Overall, the facility has relieved 10 people of their duties, and cut an additional 732 hours, which according to Osse, is equivalent to 18 staff members. He told the commission the cuts amount to $424,000 when prorated for the remainder of the year.

Click here for the rest of the story from the Bowman County Pioneer. 

Dunn County to Host Road Day Open House

Dunn County is inviting people to pay tribute August 10 to the people that take care of Dunn county’s roadway network.

The event is a spin-off of Lori Tabor’s County Employee of the Year award to recognize the efforts of the Dunn County road maintenance team.

The event is scheduled from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Dunn County Highway Department in Killdeer.  

Click here for additional details.
 Quick Connect

Factoid of the Week

Rare earth minerals such as neodymium, terbium, dysprosium, yttrium and thulium may be found in lignite coal in North Dakota. Market demand continues to grow for these metals which are used in common items such as computers, cell phones, televisions, and LED and CFL light bulbs. Rare earth minerals are also used in medical imaging devices and lasers. Research is underway to identify concentrations of these minerals in North Dakota coal seams. 

Source: ND Department of Mineral Resources

Upcoming Events

August 3

August 8
Interim Taxation Committee


August 23
ND Petroleum Council Golf Tournament
Bully Pulpit - Medora

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 28,  2017

                                                      WTI Crude: $49.74
                                                   Brent Crude: $52.57
                                                     Natural Gas: $2.94

              North Dakota Active Rigs: 60 (up 2)        7/28/16 -- 35 rigs
Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

Mike Kopp, Editor
Mike Kopp, Mykuhls Photography, Photographs