November 10, 2017
Former Sanford Exec Named Lands Commissioner

On a split 3-2 vote the ND Board of University and School Lands picked Jodi Smith as the next commissioner of the Department of Trust Lands.

Smith was most recently vice president of the western region for Sanford Health Foundation, and previously served as foundation director for Trinity Health Foundation in Minot. She will succeed current commissioner Lance Gaebe, whose appointment runs through the end of December. Gaebe has held the position since 2010.

Gov. Doug Burgum, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler and State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt voted to offer the job to Smith. Gaebe received votes from Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Secretary of State Al Jaeger.

The Department of Trust Lands manages the permanent educational trust funds and assets under the Land Board’s control. It has also recently been responsible for administering grant programs aimed at addressing oil industry impacts in western North Dakota.

Click here to read more from the Bismarck Tribune.
Helms: Permian Competition Slowing Bakken Growth

Without competition from the Permian Basin, North Dakota oil output would be growing every month at a rate of 100,000 barrels per day, according to Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources.

In an interview with S&P Global Platts, Helms said without competition from Texas, North Dakota's rig count, currently at 52, would be in the low 60s. "We'd be building production pretty rapidly towards 2 million bbl/day," he said.

Acreage in the Permian, with "Held By Production" lease provisions, is taking capital away from the Bakken, Helms said.

"The Permian is at about the stage the Bakken was in in 2010-2011 where there is still a lot of unproven acreage and a lot of first wells to get drilled," he added.

Click here to read the full Platts article.
Trinity to Build New Medical Complex in Minot

Ward County Commissioners voted this week to issue up to $380 million in Health Care Revenue Bonds to enable Trinity Health to finance a new hospital and medical park in southwest Minot.

Earlier this year the county approved up to $63 million for Trinity to refinance existing long-term debt at a lower interest rate, and to cover preliminary construction costs.

Trinity President/CEO John M. Kutch said the second bond isse will be used in combination with operating funds and private philanthropy to finance the new healthcare complex, plans for which are still being refined. Previous announcements called for a connected six-story hospital and clinic building, along with a three-story facility for behavioral health services.

The commission action doesn't impose any responsibility on Ward County to pay off the bonds. It allows Trinity to issue tax-exempt bonds, which are a less expensive way to finance projects.

Trinity Health to Close Clinic in Westhope

Trinity Health announced it will close Trinity Community Clinic in Westhope effective December 8.

“This has been a difficult decision,” said Thomas M. Warsocki, Vice President of Physician Services. “We’ve been in a prolonged period of declining reimbursements, and operating expenses at the Westhope clinic have exceeded revenues for some time."

Warsocki said patients will be notified of the decision and provided with alternatives for continuing their medical care. Trinity Health has two other primary care clinics located in Mohall and Kenmare. The health clinic has served the Westhope community since 2001.

Click here to see Trinity's news release.
McKenzie Co. Hospital Nears Completion

McKenzie County Healthcare System will open its new nursing home facility this month as part of its hospital expansion plan.

The new 120,000 square foot facility will bring the hospital, clinic and nursing home together in one local centralized location on the campus of the existing Good Shepherd Home. The new hospital will be a 24-bed critical access facility and will have nine emergency room treatment bays, while new clinic space will provide for 12 exam rooms, as well as an additional 12 rooms for specialty clinics.

Targa Badlands announced this week it would contribute $250,000 toward the hospital construction. McKenzie Co. Economic Development Director Daniel Stenberg said the Targa contribution is one of many made by local businesses, indicating strong regional support for the new facility. The $75 million project is on target to open next spring or early summer.

Click here for KFYR-TV story on the Targa contribution.
Gov Talks Main Street Initiative in Bowman

Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford toured Bowman last week and gathered local leaders to discuss the Main Street Initiative, something Burgum ran on during his 2016 campaign for governor.

There are three main pillars to the initiative that aims to grow communities in the state: develop a skilled workforce, create a vibrant healthy community with differentiated attractions, and make smart, efficient infrastructure decisions.

Bowman City Commission President Lyn James said she was happy to have the governor speak in her town, and thinks that the community has what it takes to move forward with the initiative’s ideas.

“I feel like Bowman has a lot of the tools it takes to implement that main street initiative that the governor is talking about,” James said. “We need to follow through on a lot of things and get some community buy-in, that’s the key.”

Click here to read more from the Bowman County Pioneer.
ND Petroleum Council Vice President
Named to U.S. EPA Science Panel

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has appointed Kari Cutting, Vice President of the ND Petroleum Council, to the agency’s Board of Scientific Counselors.

Cutting has a background in analytical chemistry and has worked in the energy sector in various capacities from sales to regulatory compliance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Biology from the University of ND and a Master's Degree in Business Administration, Management and Operations from Minot State University.

Pruitt recently announced that scientists who receive money from the EPA will no longer be able to serve on its advisory boards. The policy applies to the Science Advisory Board, Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and Board of Scientific Counselors.

“To ensure that EPA is receiving the best independent scientific advice, I am appointing highly-qualified experts and scientists to these important committees,” Pruitt said. "Whatever science comes out of EPA, shouldn't be political science."

Click here for an article about Cutting's appointment from SayAnything Blog.
Energy Reporting Groups Form Partnership

Energy Media Group, which manages a number of energy-related news sites (, and The Crude Life, a digital, radio and print network dedicated to telling the story of the Bakken, are forming a partnership to bring their audiences and resources together.

Jason Spiess is host of The Crude Life radio network and a feature writer for a number of media outlets who has been reporting on the Bakken since 2012.

“Energy development is a culture and a lifestyle, not just an industry or stock price,” Spiess said. “The evolution and growth in the Bakken are historic and the stories need to be told.”

Both Energy Media Group and The Crude Life will cross-promote the energy content, which will include feature stories, live events, podcasts and video updates. 

Click here to read more.
McKenzie Co. School District
Profiled on The Crude Life

The rapid growth of Watford City and the McKenzie County School District were the subject of an interview this week with School Superintendent Steve Holen, who is a board member of the Western Dakota Energy Association.

Holen was interviewed by Jason Spiess, producer of the radio program, The Crude Life. Watford City experienced unprecendented growth and the school system was arguably impacted the most. Holen discussed construction of the new high school and community center, and described the challenge of dealing with rapid growth.

Click here to listen to Holen's comments.

Holen and Spiess also discussed the historical context of Watford City in the big picture of the Bakken and evolution of western North Dakota. Spiess believes the current Bakken shale play will be a chapter in history books, with Watford City having its own subchapter.

Click here to read more or listen to the full interview.
Highway 1804 Construction Takes a Break Between Williston and New Town

Work on 1804 east of Williston will be winding down at the end of November. Crews have been working to widen the roadway and add turn lanes and shoulders.

Construction will continue through the week of Thanksgiving and then will be suspended until next spring, but motorists should be aware of the following:

  • Speeds will be reduced to 45 mph through the winter.
  • Isolated areas of gravel on the roadway will continue.
  • A 12 ft. width restriction is in maintained.

Road conditions and NDDOT construction map are here.
Berthold School Gets Defense Devices

The Lewis and Clark-Berthold School District has received about 30 Barracuda Defense Devices that can be used to keep a classroom door from being opened in the event of an active shooter or other emergency.

The devices were funded through the school district and the Berthold Economic Development Corporation. High School Principal Peggy Person said each device costs about $100 and comes from a company in Connecticut.

Berthold Police Chief Al Schmidt met with the school to discuss getting the devices. Schmidt said in a press release that the police department has been disturbed by the number of high-profile shootings that have been in the news and wanted to do something proactive.

Click here to read more from KX News.
Member's Voice -- Divide County Looks
to 2018 as a Year of Entrepreneurship

Divide County is channeling the energy of 2017 into opportunities for entrepreneurship in 2018. This past year the county celebrated expansion and remodeling of its 100-year old courthouse, and an all-school reunion showcased the county and its opportunities. It all helped create enthusiasm for Crosby and other communities to keep growing next year. 

Community Development Director KayCee Lindsey said the new day care facility has been a huge help to the community. The million-dollar building allows as many as 90 children to be cared for. Much of the infrastructure growth in the county has been centered on families and children, which helps create an environment to attract young families with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Click here to read the Divide County's Member's Voice story.
Fortis Partners to Support ND Military Vets

Fortis Energy Services has signed a partnership agreement with the North Dakota Cares Coalition to broaden its support for current and former members of the military.

ND Cares was formalized in 2015 by then Gov. Jack Dalrymple, and is administered through the state Department of Veterans Affairs. The coalition is charged with improving collaboration and coordination on behavioral health services for service members, veterans and their families.

Fortis Energy Services is an oil and gas well servicing company with operations throughout the Rocky Mountain and Northeast regions, specializing in well completions, down-hole repairs, maintenance, workovers and plugging and abandonment.

Click here to read about Fortis Energy's engagement with the coalition. ND Cares homepage is here.
Quick Connect

  • Minot mayor Chuck Barney won't seek re-election -- WDAZ

  • Weekly US crude oil production hits an all-time high -- CNBC

  • North Dakota saved $4 billion, Colorado almost none -- Denver Post
Factoid of the Week

The terms sweet and sour crude refer to its sulfur content. Early prospectors would taste oil to determine its quality, with low sulfur oil actually tasting sweet. Sweet crude is easier to refine and safer to extract and transport than sour crude. Because sulfur is corrosive, sweet crude also causes less damage to refineries.

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Oil prices and rig count

November 10, 2017

WTI Crude: $56.68
Brent Crude: $63.45
Natural Gas: $3.20

       North Dakota Active Rigs: 52 (dn 3)      11/10/16 -- 38 rigs
Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

Mike Kopp, Editor
Mike Kopp, Mykuhls Photography, Photographs