The sun dogs are out
Who let the sun dogs out? Thanks to Rep. Thomas Beadle for this shot on the morning the Legislature went to work for the 2017 Session.

What are your thoughts about the newsletter format?  The goal is to make it a quicker read for you.  If you see a story you want to read, click on the link and the full story opens.

Legislators Expect Lower Revenue

The ND Legislature’s House Appropriations Committee is looking at a state revenue forecast that is $1.1 billion less than what former Gov. Jack Dalrymple projected before leaving office. Appropriations Chairman Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood, said legislators generally believe the former governor’s numbers were too optimistic. Representative Delzer said the main factors to consider in the revenue forecast are state sales tax collections and the price of a barrel of oil.

Read more at  (

Former North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer (r) 
greets  Governor Doug Burgum (l).

Energy and enthusiasm starts the 2017 North Dakota Legislature

Positive vibes seem to be rolling through the legislative wing of the capital. Following Governor Burgum's State of the State address, people are anticipating what is to come.  "There's an air of excitement," said Western Dakota Energy Association Executive Director Geoff Simon. "The Governor has a good grasp on technology and that will help our economy state ahead of the curve."

Simon says, "It will be interesting to see the governor's initiatives on education."

Snow stalls BNSF movement at Mobridge
In Mobridge, the snow drifts are more powerful than a locomotive. Approximately 30 cars along with the lead engine were stuck. Crews worked to reach these locations with various pieces of snow plow equipment. They worked to remove “10 cars at a time” which officials called an aggressive effort.

Once ground crews removed the stuck equipment,  ample time is needed to plow and remove the snow from these cuts. That means in locations where a rotary snow plow was used time was needed to “knock down the vertical snow walls created by the rotary plow” with crawler hoes, loaders and bull dozers so the blockage did not reoccur when the wind picks up.

Click here for more photos

Counties could continue to keep penalties

A bill (SB 2045) is moving through the North Dakota Legislature that would make permanent a state law that allows county governments to keep revenue from penalties imposed when truckers are cited for overweight loads on county roads.

The provision was added to the books four years ago, but is set to expire this summer.  House Transportation Committee Chairman Dan Ruby, R-Minot, said the legislation was intended to encourage enforcement of county load limits, and it’s working.

Click here to listen to Rep. Ruby on the legislation

Hettinger wind farm to grow

ALLETE Clean Energy announced its plan to work with Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU) to expand the Thunder Spirit wind farm at Hettinger, North Dakota.

 In 2014, ALLETE Clean Energy acquired the rights to build the 107.5-megawatt first phase of Thunder Spirit, which comprises 43 turbines and generates enough electricity to power about 30,000 homes. After the project was completed in 2015, MDU bought Thunder Spirit from ALLETE Clean Energy for $200 million and operates the wind farm for its customers.

Click here to read the full story from Allete

TrainND prepares for upsurge in oilfield jobs
XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, has donated a pumping unit to TrainND-Northwest to expand its instructional capabilities. Sandblasted and painted, the pumping unit now housed in the high bay of TrainND's facility is part of a smaller version of a working field site.

$12-million transportation study for North Dakota and four other states

A project A group led by North Dakota State University will receive about $2.5 million per year for the next five years under the U.S. Department of Transportation's University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program.

The Mountain Plains Consortium proposal focuses on preserving the existing transportation system.

Click here to read the NDSU/UGPTI annoucement

Click here for the Forum story

Freezing Winter Sees Natural Gas Prices Surge

Natural Gas storage levels are dropping and prices are rising faster than analysts had predicted. Natural gas consumption is 17% above the 5-year average.

Click on the above chart to see annual 12-month price trends and rig counts
The $3.5 Trillion Fracking Economy Is About To Get A Lot Bigger

The shale revolution dramatically improved the nation's job market, both in the oil industry and outside the industry.  A new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research echoes that of other reports --  shale oil is an important contributor to the future U.S. economic growth.



Local households reap a benefit from fracking

Increased  oil and gas  production in the US is on average worth a net $1,900 per year to households in the areas where activity is highest, according to the first research to break down the impact of the shale boom on individual areas.
Upcoming Events
January 9, 2017
Six-City Study Presentation to ND Legislature

January 23, 2017
 Southwest Night at the Legislature
Ramkota, Bismarck

May 2-4, 2017
Basin Petroleum Conference Regina, SK, Canada

Oil prices and rig count
January 6, 2015

WTI Crude: $53.90
                                                   Brent Crude: $56.99
                                                     Natural Gas: $3.29

              North Dakota  Active Drills: 39 (Down 2)        1/06/16 -- 57 rigs

Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

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