April 21, 2017

Legislators Still Wrestling with Oil Impact Dollars

Debate over the appropriate distribution of oil tax revenue to units of government in western counties continues as the 2017 session of the North Dakota Legislature winds to a close. 

Several contentious issues have yet to be resolved, but House and Senate negotiators working on SB 2013 say they are close to a resolution. Differences remain over the distribution of a "haircut" among counties, cities, schools and townships to provide approximately $8 million for a grant bucket to support airport projects in Williston and Dickinson. That $8 million in turn would free up money in the Strategic Infrastructure and Investments Fund to fund an appropriation to non-oil townships.

Also yet to be decided is the level of funding provided to the Hub Cities of Dickinson, Minot and Williston. The cities will all experience a reduction due to a change in the distribution formula, but House negotiators argue the funding level should be further reduced because the cities received a "bonus" from the 2015 Legislature.
WDEA Board Members Discuss Township Road Needs

WDEA President Daryl Dukart and board member Trudy Ruland were interviewed this week by KX News about a legislative dispute over oil tax dollars used to support construction of township roads.

KX Reporter Jim Olson visited Stanley, where he spoke with Ruland, who's a Mountrail County Commissioner, as well as Commission Chairman Arlo Borud and Scott Duerre from the county's road and bridge department.

Dukart, who is a Dunn County Commissioner, was lobbying for the legislation at the Capitol in Bismarck, where he was interviewed by reporter Malique Rankin.

Click here to see a transcript of the KX news story and watch the video.
Sakakawea Mineral Ownership Bill Clears Legislature

Legislation that establishes mineral ownership rights under Lake Sakakawea is on its way to the governor's desk.

SB 2134 addresses concerns of citizens who hold minerals but lost land for the construction of the Garrison Dam, which created Lake Sakakawea. The bill sets up a process to return about $187 million in bonus, rent and royalty payments to the mineral owners.

The House voted 75-15 on the final version of the bill Wednesday, after the Senate approved it earlier on a 34-8 vote.

Sen. Jessica Unruh, R-Beulah, said the ND Legislature needed to make sure that the state gets the mineral ownership back to the rightful owner.

Click here to listen to Sen. Unruh's comments.

Spring Edition of Basin Bits on its Way

The Spring issue of Basin Bits, a publication of the Western Dakota Energy Association, will soon be hitting mailboxes throughout the Bakken region.

But if you can't wait to get a copy in your hands, the Spring issue is already available to read on-line.

This issue features articles about the implications of the Trump Administration on the oil industry; a profile of new North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum; a Bakken cost production analysis; a look at technology that will keep coal viable; and a review of the 2017 ND Legislature.

Click here to view the online version of Basin Bits.

WDEA Exec Guest Hosts Energy Matters

WDEA Executive Director Geoff Simon, who started his career in radio news, was a guest host this week of the talk show Energy Matters on KFYR Radio.

The two-hour talk show featured conversations about current energy issues, with a heavy dose of discussion about the 2017 North Dakota Legislature.  Simon interviewed Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Jessica Unruh, R-Beulah, during the two hour broadcast. 

Other guests were Cam Winton with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Gary Preszler with the ND chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners, Dr. Chip Poland from Dickinson State University, PSC Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, and Isaac Orr from the Heartland Institute. Excerpts from a couple of those interviews are featured in this edition of the WDEA newsletter.

Click here for a web archive of the April 18 edition of Energy Matters.

Heartland Institute Study Shows Frac Sand Mining is Safe

A recent study by the Heartland Institute investigating the effects of industrial sand mining on air quality concludes those operations do not pose a threat to human health or the environment.

Geologist Isaac Orr, one of the study's author's, noted that some environmental activist groups have claimed silica sand mining presents significant threats to human health and the environment.

Click here to listen to Orr's comments.

Orr said research has conclusively shown silica sand mining operations do not increase the concentrations of silica sand particles in the ambient air downwind of such operations.

Click here to listen to Orr's explanation.

Click here to read more details about the Heartland Institute Study.

Road Scholar recipients announced

The North Dakota Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) has developed a Road Scholar Program for road and highway practitioners in North Dakota. It recognizes each participant's achievement in subjects and topics essential to efficient and effective local road maintenance and management.

The Road Scholar program increases knowledge and awareness of how and why the road systems must be properly managed. The ideas, knowledge, and skills gained through LTAP training help road and highway personnel on the job, strengthen their agency, preserve the roadway infrastructure, and reduce the cost of maintaining the roadways.

Click  here for a list of recipients.

Road Construction Season underway

Construction started Monday, April 17, on ND Highway 1804 east of Williston. Work consists of asphalt paving, widening the roadway, turn lane and shoulder construction. Heavy truck traffic is expected to slow traffic, so motorists are encouraged to take an alternative route.

During construction:

  • Speeds will be reduced to 45 mph or less in some areas

  • A width restriction of 11 feet will be in place

  • Flaggers will be present

  • Motorists may experience delays of up to 15 minutes

  • Oil and gravel may be present on the roadway

The project is expected to be completed this fall.


1804 gets additional work near New Town.

Construction also started Monday on ND Highway 1804 from ND 23A to Mountrail County Road 5/55th St. NW near New Town. Work consists of widening the roadway and turn lane construction.

During construction:

  • Speeds will be reduced to 45 mph

  • A width restriction of 11 feet will be in place

  • Flaggers will be present

  • Motorists may experience brief delays

For more information click here   

Higher Oil Production Means More Jobs

Should oil production increase in North Dakota by 25 percent, the state will add at least another 1,886 jobs, according to a massive research effort completed by John Dunham & Associates.

Click here for the story from North American Shale.

Here is the link to the Western Energy Alliance study.

See North Dakota's numbers here.

Highway 85 Clean-Up Planned Next Week

The Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association (TRE) is organizing its second annual clean-up week along US Highway 85 in western North Dakota. The clean-up week is scheduled for April 30 - May 6. The event is an effort to pick up trash along the Hwy 85 corridor and to promote a litter free roadway. In order to get this project done, many volunteers will be needed. 

Those interested in volunteering for clean-up week along Hwy 85 should contact Cal Klewin, TRE Executive Director, at 701-523-6171 or email him at  cal@trexpressway.com.

Click  here to learn more from TRE clean-up plans.

Quick Connect

Upcoming Events

April 21
Teddy Roosevelt Mule Deer Foundation Banquet
Dickinson Astoria Hotel

April 30- May 7
U.S. Highway 85 Clean-Up week 

May 2-4 
Williston Basin Petroleum Conference Regina, SK, Canada

July 17-19, 2017
The Bakken Conference and Expo
Bismarck Event Center

Oil prices and rig count

April 21, 2017

                                                      WTI Crude: $49.68
                                                   Brent Crude: $52.10
                                                      Natural Gas: $3.10

              North Dakota  Active Drills: 49 (down 2)        4/21/16 -- 29 rigs

Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

Mike Kopp, Editor
Mike Kopp, Mykuhls Photography, Photographs
Western Dakota Energy Association