Natural Gas Flare

WDEA Executive Committee Urges Senator Heitkamp to Reject BLM Rule

The WDEA Executive Committee is urging ND Senator Heidi Heitkamp to support a Congressional resolution to disapprove the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Venting and Flaring Rule.

In a letter to Senator Heitkamp, WDEA President Daryl Dukart said the BLM rules are unnecessary because North Dakota addressed the flaring issue nearly three years ago. The state Industrial Commission in July 2014 approved rules which required operators in the Bakken and Three Forks plays to file plans to capture the gas produced in association with oil production. 

Because the BLM rules would apply not only to wells with federal leases, but also to any spacing unit that contains federal minerals, they would impact nearly 3,000 private wells. The rules could force well owners to curtail production to meet BLM’s flaring thresholds, potentially costing producers and the state’s taxpayers millions of dollars.

HJR 36 is awaiting action in the U.S. Senate.  The House earlier approved the measure on a 221-191 vote.

Click here to read WDEA’s letter to Senator Heitkamp.

Pipeline Reclamation Bill Receives Final Legislative Approval

Legislation that will continue to assist landowners who encounter pipeline reclamation problems is on its way to the Governor’s desk. 

SB 2236 passed the House 80-11 this week. The bill makes permanent a program that provides mediation services to landowners who have had problems associated with pipelines that cross their land.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Dick Anderson, R-Willow City, said the mediation service was started as a pilot program two years ago, and landowners have been happy with the results.

Click here to listen to Rep. Anderson’s explanation.

Click here to read more about the Pipeline Restoration and Reclamation Oversight Program. 

WDEA Truck Permit Bill Moves One Step Closer to Final Passage

The ND Senate Transportation Committee voted 6-0 on Thursday to approve HB 1320, legislation that will enhance the operation of WDEA’s Uniform Truck Permit System. The full Senate will consider the bill next week.

The legislation is a response to an interim study, and is the byproduct of a working group that included WDEA, as well as the ND Petroleum Council, the ND Association of Counties, the ND Motor Carriers Association, the ND Association of Township Officers, several energy industry players and a few legislators. 

The bill is a positive step to provide uniformity and efficiency in the movement of oversize vehicles in the Bakken. It also sets the stage for the possible expansion of the truck permit system to other counties throughout North Dakota.

Click here to read more details about this bill.

ND Legislation Aimed at Cleaning Up Old Brine Pits

A bill awaiting action in the ND Senate, HB 1347, would appropriate $5 million over the next two years to examine the best way to deal with salty brine pits left behind by older oil drilling operations.

The pits are associated with wells drilled prior to 1984 in northern reaches of the Bakken, according to Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources.  Helms said producers at that time hoped nature would eventually take care of the salty ponds, but instead the problem worsened and the brine started moving through the soil.                

Now, research is needed to assess just how big the problem is, and to look for cost effective ways to undo the damage.

Click here to listen to Helms explanation of the problem.  

ND House Approves Taxpayer Notification Legislation

A bill intended to help North Dakota taxpayers better understand their property tax bill passed the ND House this week.

SB 2288  will require county auditors to send all property owners a “truth in taxation” notice no later than August 31 each year. The notice will include the date, time, and location of the budget hearing for each of the taxing districts in which the property is located, and where the taxing district's budget is available for review. It will also show the difference between the taxing district's total levy from the previous year and the taxing district's estimated levy for the coming year.

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Michael Howe, R-West Fargo, said the intent is to better inform taxpayers about the effect of local spending on their property tax bill.

Click here to listen to Rep. Howe’s comments.

Pipeline Siting Legislation Clears House Committee

Legislation that would streamline the siting of gas and liquid transmission pipelines received unanimous approval this week in the ND House Energy & Natural Resources Committee.

SB 2286 would expand the Public Service Commission’s siting process to incorporate conditions required by local planning and zoning boards. The bill essentially consolidates the PSC hearing and county/township hearings into a single proceeding.

The amended legislation is the result of a compromise reached between the ND Petroleum Council, WDEA and other local government interests. The bill will require that local concerns are addressed in PSC pipeline construction permits. It also requires the legislature to review the new siting procedure during the 2017-19 interim to ensure it is working as intended. 

Member's Voice -- Williams County

Snow is disappearing, flooding is non-existent, load limits are in place, business is picking up, and things are looking good in Williams County.  

Developers continue to build single-family homes in the county. County Commissioner Wayne Aberle said those homes in the $200,000 to $300,000 range are most popular, but some more expensive homes are being also being built. The drive for more housing follows the demand for more workers, especially fracking crews and truck drivers.  They’re being paid a premium if they have a haz-mat certification. Even truckers who haul gravel to frack sites are making $100,000/year.

Click here for the Williams County Member's Voice story

Billings County oil spill larger than thought, clean up underway

The oil gathering line operated by Belle Fourche Pipeline leaked more than 12,000 barrels of oil, instead of the early figure of 4,200 barrels.Cleanup crews continue to be on site, where traces of benzene have been detected throughout a creek which flows into the Little Missouri River, said Bill Suess, spill investigation program manager for the North Dakota Department of Health. "We continue to work on the recovery and the cleanup. We will be there until this is finished." 

Crews are focusing efforts on cleaning the 5½ miles of creek, which runs through privately owned land and U.S. Forest Service grazing land.

"They want to get that back into operation and healthy for cattle prior to the grazing season," Suess said.

Amy Dalrymple's Forum News Service story is here

Trump approves  Keystone XL 

The Trump administration issued a permit Friday to build the Keystone XL pipeline, reversing the conclusion of the Obama administration and clearing the way for the $8 billion project to finally be completed. The State Department, responsible for reviewing the project because it crosses an international border, determined that building it serves U.S. national interests.

The decision caps a years-long fight between environmental groups and energy industry advocates over the pipeline’s fate that became a proxy battle over global warming. It marks one of the biggest steps taken to date by the Trump administration to prioritize economic development over environmental concerns.

Click here for Amy Dalrymple story on opposition to KXL

Whiting expands in the Bakken

"Super-fracking" is boosting well production in McKenzie County for Whiting Oil.  Advancements in drillbits have reduced heat, and advancements in mud-motor technology have provided more torque. Whiting has about 5,300 locations to drill in the basin, with about 4,800 of these in the core of the play.

The future of wind farms and towers in North Dakota

Legislators are discussing rules about how far back wind towers must be from homes and property lines.  Lawmakers indicated a willingness to avoid debate about local planning and zoning laws.

 New setback requirements in SB 2313 can be increased by local planning and zoning boards.  The bill also creates an ombudsman program within the North Dakota Agriculture Department.

Bismarck Tribune, Nick Smith story is here.

Allete schedules new wind farm

Called "Clean Energy 1," Allete's is proposing a new wind farm north of Glen Ullin. It has been permitted by the North Dakota Public Service Commission and has landowner agreements in place. Construction is expected to begin in 2018. 

The new project will be built with the latest wind-turbine technology to maximize production and is expected to be complete in 2019.  Allete also operates Thunder Spirit wind farm near Hettinger. 

Click here for Allete news release 


Xcel invests heavily in wind

Xcel Energy this week announced its largest wind expansion ever.  The company plans include new sites in Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. 
  • Foxtail Wind, a 150 MW self-build project located in Dickey County, North Dakota, developed by NextEra Energy Resources
  • Crowned Ridge Wind Project, a 300 MW build-own-transfer project and a 300 MW power purchase agreement. The project will be located in Codington, Deuel and Grant Counties, South Dakota, developed by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources

Full news release from Xcel Energy is here

Oil prices struggle

Oil has traditionally been a major barometer for the U.S. and the world economy. Part of the problem for oil producers is that there is an increase in supply. Global oil supplies rose by 260,000 barrels a day last month, bringing the total production to 96.52 million barrels a day.

U.S. producers are the culprits for the increase, which has caused domestic crude oil storage figures to surge recently.

Big Oil gets in to shale oil

Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp., are jumping into American shale with gusto, planning to spend a combined $10 billion this year, up from next to nothing only a few years ago.

While the first chapter of the U.S. shale revolution belonged to wildcatters such as Harold Hamm and the late Aubrey McClendon, who parlayed borrowed money into billions, Big Oil’s dive into shale could weaken the hand of Saudi Arabia and other big exporters by raising U.S. output. Interest and attention is focused on the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico.

Second Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Cleanup

Communities across North Dakota are encouraged to conduct local litter clean-up activities during Clean-Up week April 30 - May 7. This designated week is an opportunity for communities to beautify roadways and parks for area residents and visitors.

The Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association (TRE) is organizing its second annual clean-up week along the US Highway 85 in western North DakotaA planned US 85 Clean-up week is scheduled for April 30 - May 7. This event is an effort to pick up trash along the US 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 US 85 should contact Cal Klewin, TRE Executive Director, at 701-523-6171 or email him at


Legislature increases fine for littering

People who litter along a highway would face stiffer fines under a bill approved by the North Dakota Legislature. It raises the littering fine from $100 to $500 for anyone who tosses trash along any publicly maintained road.

The Senate approved the 40-6 bill on Monday. The House approved it 67-23 last month.

Click here for Bismarck Tribune litter story

Quick Connect

Upcoming Events

March 28-29, 2017
North Dakota Asphalt Conference
Bismarck  Ramada Hotel

March 28, 2017 
 March 30, 2017
Planning and Zoning workshops

March 31, 2017
12:00 noon
McKenzie County Law Enforcement Center Ribbon Cutting & Tours  
McKenzie County Law Enforcement Center 

March 31, 2017
Truck Weight Education Class
Jamestown ND

April 6, 2017
Truck Weight Education Class
  Minot ND 

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

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

Oil prices and rig count
March 24, 2017

    WTI Crude: $48.13
                                                   Brent Crude: $50.98
                                                 Natural Gas: $3.09

              North Dakota  Active Drills: 49 (up 2)        3/24/16 -- 32 rigs

Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

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