November 17, 2017
ND Production Tops 1.1 M Barrels Per Day

Oil production in North Dakota topped 1.1 million barrels per day in September, the first time it's hit that mark since March 2016.

Production has remained steady or climbed slowly since falling to 971,000 bbl/day last September. The state's all-time high was 1,227,483 bbl/day in December 2014.

Preliminary figures released by the ND Department of Mineral Resources show September production totaled 33.2 million barrels, or an average of 1,107,104 barrels/day. That topped August's production by about 20,000 bbl/day.

On the downside, ND producers exceeded flaring limits for the first time in three years. DMR Director Lynn Helms said 17% of natural gas was not captured due to unforeseen events that interrupted the gas capturing process. Helms explained the reasons for the flaring increase this morning in an interview with Scott Hennen on the What's On Your Mind radio show. Click here to listen to his comments.

Click here to read more in Helms' Director's Cut.
Minot Getting Prepped for Hub City Hearing

To suggest that Minot city leaders will be well-prepared to meet later this month with state legislators studying Hub City funding would be an understatement.

Following the script from their 11th draft of the agenda for the two-day meeting, the working group this week shared its presentation plans with Minot area legislators to gather feedback.

Minot City administrator Tom Barry is leading the group, which also includes Ward County, the Minot School District, the Chamber of Commerce, Minot Area Development Corporation, Trinity Health, the Minot API chapter, as well as industry players Hess, Baker-Hughes, Cameron (Schlumberger) and Enbridge.

Like Williston and Dickinson before them, Minot officials plan to take members of the interim Energy Development and Transmission Committee on a tour of infrastructure projects and various company operations to show how the city has been impacted by growth in the oil industry.

The meeting is scheduled Nov. 29-30. Click here for additional details about the EDT Committee.
Aeronautics Commission Recommends Funding

The ND Aeronautics Commission this week endorsed several energy impact grant recommendations, including funds for airport projects underway in Williston and Dickinson, along with several other airports in western North Dakota.

The Commission recommends an $18.5 million grant for work underway on the new airport in Williston. The funds will help pay for design work on aprons, taxiways and runways, as well as the security and wildlife fence that will surround the airport. The money will also go toward relocation of three pipelines that now cross the new airport property.

The Aeronautics Commission recommended $1.4 million go to Dickinson for construction work on a parallel runway that will temporarily serve as the city's primary landing strip when the main runway undergoes reconstruction in the future. Members also recommended grants totaling $1.3 million for airport projects in Mohall, Stanley, Tioga and Watford City. Funding for Watford City will go toward land acquisition to accommodate future lengthening of its runway from 4,400 feet to 5,800 feet.

The recommendations now go to the state Land Board, which has final decision making authority.

Click here for additional details about the grant recommendations.
EmPower Outlines Energy Priorities

Members of the Empower North Dakota Commission broke into three subcommittees at their meeting this week to identify priorities upon which the group should focus.

The Public Policy Subcommittee discussed a proposal by US Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry to establish a pricing mechanism to compensate coal-fired and nuclear power plants that are being adversely affected by the addition of renewable generation. Because many of those plants no longer run 24/7, they are struggling financially. EmPower members support Perry's suggestion to reward the plants because they ensure the reliability of the electric grid. The policy group also plans to closely follow development of the state's new Department of Environmental Quality to ensure that North Dakota retains primacy over local environmental issues.

The Infrastructure Subcommittee discussed ways to finance new pipeline projects, with an eye toward bringing natural gas service to more of North Dakota's unserved communities. The group also discussed the need to find new sources of revenue for road construction, and to identify infrastructure investments needed to attract value-added energy and agriculture projects.

EmPower's Research and Development Subcommittee devoted much of its time to the challenge of getting new technology from the drawing board to commercial scale. The group suggested inviting guests from the energy sector to help EmPower understand what's missing and how the state could facilitate more rapid deployment of energy technology.

EmPower represents a broad cross section of the energy industry. Click here to see a list of its members.
Lignite Research Council Okays Education Program

Members of the Lignite Research Council are recommending the state's approval of a $100,000 matching grant to the Lignite Energy Council's education program.

The LEC has conducted an annual educational seminar for elementary and secondary teachers for the past 32 years. Kay LaCoe, LEC's Director of Membership Marketing, said the seminar has been successful in helping teachers and their students better understand the economic impact of the lignite industry, and how recent technological improvements have made coal a substantially cleaner source of energy.

Over its history, the education program has reached more than 3,200 teachers, nearly one-fourth of whom are from out-of-state. LaCoe told research council members that many of the participating teachers leave the seminar with a different view about coal. She said they learn of the importance of lignite to the region's power supply, and that it is not "dirty" as portrayed by environmental activists.

The research council's recommendation will go to the state Industrial Commission for final action.
NDDOT Boss Talks Tow Plows, Frac Water

North Dakota's new Department of Transportation director covered a wide range of topics during an interview yesterday with Scott Hennen on the radio program, What's on Your Mind.

Tom Sorel started his new job with NDDOT in August after spending much of his career in Minnesota, including a stint as MNDOT commissioner. Sorel talked about DOT's plans for winter road maintenance, including the addition of a new type of plow that allows trucks to clear a wider path.

Click here to listen to Sorel's comments.

Sorel was also asked about a relatively new innovation in the oilfields - flexible water transfer lines - that are used to move frac water to well sites. The temporary pipelines have taken literally thousands of water trucks off the road. Despite the obvious benefits, there have been issues with the flex lines, but Sorel said ND DOT is trying to address them.

Click here to listen to Sorel's comments.

To listen to the entire What's on Your Mind interview, click here. Sorel's interview is in Hour 2, Segments 3 and 4 of the 11-16-17 broadcast.
DOJ Pledges to Prosecute Pipeline Vandals

The U.S. Department of Justice promises it will prosecute protesters if they damage or sabotage pipelines or other oil and gas infrastructure.

The DOJ said it was committed to vigorously prosecuting those who damage “critical energy infrastructure in violation of federal law.” The announcement comes just a few weeks after 84 members of Congress signed a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking whether domestic terrorism law applies to protesters who attempt to shut down oil pipelines. ND Congressman Cramer is one of the signers of the letter.

The Association of Oil Pipe Lines applauded DOJ’s move, saying that closing a valve without simultaneously controlling pumps along the pipeline could cause a dangerous rupture and spill.

Click here for an article by Reuters.
Vision West ND Awarded
$500,000 Bush Foundation Grant

"It is awesome. It's the first time anyone in western North Dakota has received the award," said Deb Nelson, Vision West Administrator. "We plan to leverage the award to benefit Western North Dakota for at least three to five years."

Nelson met with Vision West members Thursday to start planning how the grant money will be used.

"First of all, $200,000 will go to our endowment fund," Nelson said. "We'd like to grow our endowment fund to $500,000 so we can continue to serve counties and communities in Western North Dakota."

A second goal for the grant is to use $125,000 for projects that benefit the region, especially to meet local behavioral and mental health needs.

Click here for more details from the Dickinson Press.
Quick Connect

  • TransCanada responds to Keystone oil leak in SD -- TransCanada

  • Tribes push for more pipeline safety measures -- KFYR-TV

  • Injured DAPL protester still under investigation -- KFYR-TV

  • Dickinson is ready when the snow comes - KX News

  • Burke County economy grows with non-GMO grain terminal -- PR News

  • Classroom addition at Divide County High School nears completion -- Crosby Journal
Factoid of the Week

One ton of lignite coal is roughly the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil. The energy contained in the 28.7 million tons of coal mined in North Dakota in 2016 would be sufficient to provide a year's worth of gasoline for 5.5 million cars.

Upcoming Events
Oil prices and rig count

November 17, 2017

WTI Crude: $56.50
Brent Crude: $62.65
Natural Gas: $3.10

       North Dakota Active Rigs: 56 (up 4)      11/17/16 -- 38 rigs
Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

Mike Kopp, Editor
Mike Kopp, Mykuhls Photography, Photographs