December 22, 2017

From the Executive Committee and Staff
of the Western Dakota Energy Association, here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas!
PSC: Meridian Should Seek Permit

Members of the ND Public Service Commission urged officials of Meridian Energy to seek a siting permit for its proposed David Refinery, even though the project falls well below the PSC's 50,000 bbl/day siting threshold.

During an informal discussion session on Tuesday, Meridian CEO William Prentice told commissioners the Davis Refinery’s capacity would be 27,500 bbl/day. He said the company only contemplated a larger facility because of questions from the ND Department of Health about possible future expansion. 

Click here to listen to Prentice’s comments.

PSC Commissioners said reports of plans for a larger plant suggest the company may be trying to skirt the siting law. PSC Commissioner Julie Fedorchak urged the company to seek a permit now.  

Click here to listen to Fedorchak’s comments.

The refinery would be built on a 630-acre site southwest of Belfield. Landowner Greg Kessel said it would be a great addition to Billings County.

Click here to listen to Kessel’s comments.

Meridian received a conditional use permit from the Billings County Commission in July 2016. Kessel said the project has a lot of community support.

Click here to listen to Kessel’s comments.

The Department of Health has issued a Draft Permit to Construct, and a 45-day comment period is now open. A public information meeting and public hearing will be held January 17 at 5:30 p.m. MST in the Dorothy Stickney Auditorium, May Hall, Dickinson State University.
Click here for a link to an audio recording of the PSC’s meeting with Meridian.

Click here for reporter Amy Dalrymple’s story about the meeting.
USGS Bakken Study to Consider New Details

Plans by the US Geological Survey to reexamine the Williston Basin’s oil recovery potential will look at previously untapped formations, and developments in new technology that may allow oil to be recovered from them.

USGS Program Coordinator Walter Guidroz wa s interviewed this week on the radio program, Energy Matters. Guidroz said the industry has found new ways to recover oil since the last Bakken and Three Forks assessment.

Click here to listen to Guidroz’s comments.

The most recent assessment covered the Bakken and Three Forks formations, but the new report will cover the entire Williston Basin. Guidroz said it’s difficult to predict what results of the study will be. 

Click here to listen to Guidroz’s comments.

USGS currently estimates recoverable volumes of 7.4 billion barrels of oil, 6.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 0.53 billion barrels of natural gas liquids in the Bakken and Three Forks Formations.

Energy Matters airs every Tuesday from 3:00–5:00 CST on KFYR and KLTC Radio. It is rebroadcast Saturday on WZFG and KTGO Radio.
Shale Development Doesn’t Affect Mortality

Mortality rates for the six Pennsylvania counties with the greatest amount of natural gas development in the Marcellus shale play have declined or remained stable, according to a new report commissioned by Energy in Depth.

The report analyzes Pennsylvania Department of Health data for the state as a whole and the counties of Bradford, Greene, Lycoming, Susquehanna, Tioga and Washington from 2000 to 2014.

"In all six counties that had the highest development activity in Pennsylvania, the death rates declined or remained stable despite a significant increase in the elderly population,” said study author Susan Mickley, a health research consultant.

“This indicates that health and longevity did not decline as some have said would happen,” she continued, “and in fact, longevity increased as the average household income and employment in these counties improved. None of the categories saw a negative impact on health from natural gas resource development."

Click here to download the report.

Click here to read more from North American Shale.
School Construction Projects Planned
in Williston, Parshall and New Town

Three western North Dakota school districts are working on plans for school building projects, two of which will likely require a bond election in the near future.

The Williston School Board has hired an architect to prepare designs for two new elementary schools and an addition to the high school. A tentative election date of March 20 has been set to seek public approval of the estimated $61 million project.

The Parshall School Board is considering a vote in April on a new school building to replace its current high school and elementary school, both of which require substantial repairs. Voters narrowly defeated the project in a previous election, partly due to uncertainty about sources of funding for the new school building.

School officials in New Town are also looking at an addition to Edwin Loe Elementary School, which is struggling to cope with enrollment that has grown to more than 500 students in grades K-5. The school board authorized hiring an architect to design a project that would add 10 classrooms, plus a multi-purpose room, three mini-classrooms and a computer lab. School officials hope to pay for the $7.8 million project wtih revenue from oil development on school district land.

Click a link for more details about the three projects: Williston -- Parshall -- New Town
WDEA Exec to Host Energy Manners Dec. 26

WDEA Executive Director Geoff Simon will have another stint behind the microphone next week as guest host of the radio program Energy Matters.

Simon’s guests during the two-hour talk show will include Lt. Governor Brent Sanford, who will discuss the latest energy-related happenings in North Dakota, as well as Rep. Todd Porter, R-Mandan, who will share his thoughts on energy issues being discussed by interim legislative committees. Also on the program to provide an update on the state’s establishment of a new Department of Environmental Quality will be Dave Glatt, director of the Environmental Health unit of the state Department of Health.

The program will also include guests representing the Lignite Energy Council, Bismarck State College and the Public Service Commission. Energy Matters airs every Tuesday from 3:00-5:00 pm on KFYR and KLTC Radio. It is rebroadcast Saturday on WZFG and KTGO Radio.
Gasoline Prices Higher than One Year Ago, but Expected to Drop Slightly

Gasoline prices averaged $2.56 per gallon in November, an increase of
6 cents/gal from the October figure.

November's increase primarily reflected higher crude oil prices. The Energy Information Administration forecasts the U.S. regular gasoline retail price will average $2.59/gal in December, 34 cents/gal higher than at the same time last year. EIA predicts that gasoline prices will average $2.51/gal in 2018.

Average heating oil prices are forecast to be 12% higher, and propane prices will be 10% higher compared to last winter.
Watford City Retail Sees Industry-Related Growth

More than a dozen retail businesses opened in Watford City in 2017, and more are set to open after the first of the year.

"We're not offering incentives for businesses to settle here, but it's all about location, location, location," said McKenzie County Economic Development Coordinator Daniel Stenberg. "The oil field activity and now the new gas plant are attracting new retail to Watford City."

October's unemployment rate in McKenzie County was 1.6 percent, about half what it was one year ago. And despite the end of the construction season, Stenberg sees no sign of higher unemployment in the coming months.

"There's usually a slowdown this time of year, but not this year. Spring will increase employment even more," he said.
Safe Holiday Travel Reminders

The ND Department of Transportation (NDDOT) and state Highway Patrol are offering a few tips to help motorists to stay safe this busy holiday travel season.

“There are a number of things drivers can do, from buckling your seat belt to checking road conditions before traveling," said Tom Sorel, NDDOT Director.

The Highway Patrol reminders drivers it's also important to make smart choices behind the wheel.

“Drive sober, buckle up, obey posted speed limits or lower speeds for the conditions and driving distraction free will help to ensure a safe and fun holiday season,” said HP Colonel Michael Gerhardt.

Other suggestions for safe travel:

  • Stay a safe distance behind snow plows
  • Carry a winter survival kit
  • Don't use cruise control when driving on icy roadways
  • Fill your gas tank before you go
  • Travel with a charged cell phone
Quick Connect

  • Analysts see report as evidence Bakken is back -- Seeking Alpha

  • Hoeven hires Shari Buck as regional director for western North Dakota -- Sen. Hoeven

  • Hazen students win first round of Show Your Energy video challenge -- NDPC

  • Morton Co. Commissioner discusses DAPL at Nobel Peace Forum - KFYR-TV

  • Oasis expands outside Bakken, aquires assets in Permian Basin -- Markets Insider

Factoid of the Week

Hydraulic fracturing is not just used for oil and natural gas production. Over the past 60 years, fracking has been used for a variety of purposes, from stimulating the flow of water from water wells, to bringing geothermal wells into commercial viability. It’s even been used by EPA to serve as a remediation tool for cleaning up Superfund sites.

 Source: Energy in Depth  
Upcoming Events
January 8, 2018

January 17, 2018
Dickinson State University

January 24, 2018

January 25, 2018

May 22-24, 2018

July 16-18, 2018
Watford City
Oil prices and rig count

December 22, 2017

WTI Crude: $58.35
Brent Crude: $65.12
Natural Gas: $2.65

       North Dakota Active Rigs: 53 (unch)      12/22/16 -- 41 rigs
Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

Mike Kopp, Editor
Mike Kopp, Mykuhls Photography, Photographs