ND Legislature hits crossover; much to do in second half

The North Dakota House and Senate adjourned Thursday reaching crossover, the halfway point of the 2017 legislative session. Lawmakers will return to Bismarck to resume their work on March 1 .

Check out these "half-session" reviews from our friends:
North Dakota Association of Counties

Tipple Bill Hits Oliver County, But Impact Reduced

The ND House has approved what has been called the “tipple bill,” actually the Treasurer’s office appropriations bill (HB 1005). The bill got its name because it initially contained a provision that would eliminate the state’s reimbursement to Oliver County for a portion of its coal severance tax revenue that goes to Morton County instead.  Tipple refers to the location at which coal is mined. The revenue sharing came about years ago to address impacts in Morton County related to the tipple in southern Oliver County.  The original bill would have zeroed out $228,000 over the $2017-19 biennium to reimburse Oliver County.  The impact has been reduced in the revised version of the bill, which will now will cost units of government in Oliver County about $14,000 per year. 

Senate Rejects Bill to Strip Counties of Wind Tax Revenue

The ND Senate voted 17-29 to reject a bill that would have given the state a share of wind tax revenue, all of which now goes to the county in which a wind farm is located.  The original version of SB 2209  would have given the state 70% of wind generation taxes, which are based on the generating capacity and actual energy production of individual wind farms.  The bill’s sponsor said the measure was intended to share wind energy taxes similar to the manner in which oil and gas tax revenue is distributed.  The legislation was later amended to significantly reduce the state’s take during the initial five years of a wind farm’s operation.  But even then it failed because of concerns that reducing the local share would disincentivise approval of future wind projects.

Wind power moratorium dies down to a study 

The North Dakota Senate brushed back a proposal to impose a two-year moratorium on the construction of new wind farms in the state.  Instead, senators voted to study the long term electrical energy needs of North Dakota, including associated tax and financial implications. The moratorium, temporarily amended into SB 2314, was proposed in response to concerns that the burgeoning wind industry threatens the viability of North Dakota’s $3 billion lignite coal industry.  Senator Curt Kreun, R-Grand Forks, opposed the moratorium. He said he supports an “all-of-the-above” approach, and believes the state should continue to position itself as an energy exporter. 

Click here to listen to Senator’s Kreun’s comments.

Legislation Could Expand Natural Gas Service

The ND House of Representatives passed a bill to make it possible for more unserved communities to obtain natural gas service. HB 1398, would allow cities to negotiate a service agreement with an energy provider, that would exempt the community from PSC rate regulation. Its sponsor, Rep. Jon Nelson, R-Rugby, explained to WDEA Executive Director Geoff Simon that communities could be served, even if there is no natural gas pipeline serving the community. 

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

Steiner is one of nine interviewed for PSC

Nine people, including a sitting North Dakota lawmaker, have been interviewed for the vacant Public Service Commission seat, according to a list provided by Gov. Doug Burgum's office Thursday, Feb. 23. The three-member commission is down one member after Brian Kalk left for a job at the University of North Dakota EERC.

What to do with the existing Williston Airport land

At the first of three town hall meetings meant to assess the future of the site of the city’s current airport, there was a general consensus that the land should be used for a mix of public facilities like schools and parks and private enterprises.

Comprehensive plan includes more route changes for Williston and Williams County

The plan addresses Williston and the surrounding area in Williams County.   In large part, the strong roadway connections in the Williston area have helped the city become a regional trade center for northwestern North Dakota. US Highway 2 is a major roadway that traverses the northern United States.

Click to read the 286-page Comprehensive Plan               click above map for transportation plan

Read the Williston Herald story here

Click here for Williston Herald story on plans for growth and transportation                                                                                                      

Speculation on spring Bakken output

Some energy firms are confident that the Bakken’s future looks bright. Hess Corporation, which is already heavily involved in North Dakota, has earmarked $2.25 billion exploration and production in the Bakken in 2017, and the company plans to increase Bakken rigs from two to six by year’s end.

The Permian region was the only area covered in EIA’s  Drilling Productivity Report (DPR) that did not experience a month with a year-over-year production decline throughout 2014–16. This region benefits from a number of highly productive formations located within what is an established oil-producing region that allows producers to continue operations despite low prices. When the WTI spot price rose to more than $45/bbl in May 2016, the Permian experienced a rapid growth in drilling rigs, increasing by 85 rigs from May to November 2016, suggesting that some operators can generate positive returns in the region at those prices.

Survey shows public divided over Keystone XL, Dakota pipelines

About four-in-ten (42%) favor building the Keystone XL pipeline, while 48% are opposed, according to a national Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 7-12, 2017.

Views of the Dakota Access pipeline, which would carry oil thorough North and South Dakota, are similar to opinions about Keystone XL: 43% favor building the Dakota Access pipeline, while 48% are opposed.

Oil companies hire and train new workers to be safe.

North Dakota's petroleum industry is facing a recruitment problem.

The state oil rig count is predicted to increase and well service companies are looking to hire hundreds of workers, but they're having trouble finding them.

Click here to see the KFYR-TV story and video
Local perspective on the progress of the Davis Refinery

There have been mixed reviews during the permitting process for the project with people stating that the proximity to the national park will hurt the Medora experience while others applaud the jobs the refinery will bring to the area.

During the construction phase an estimated 500 workers will be needed and 200 workers will be hired permanently after the refinery is completed.

Energy Day to showcase the future of Oil & Gas in North Dakota’s economy

What lies ahead for the Bakken? How will world oil markets impact drilling and production in North Dakota?

Energy Day brings the numbers to the State Capitol on March 7th from 10 am to 1 pm in the Brynhild Haugland Room.

Click here to read more about Energy Day

Register at www.backthebakken.org/energyday

Quick Connect

Busted!  Study counts fracking spills, but biggest spills were fresh water. Nearly all the spills were very small and contained on site.

Upcoming Events

March 1, 2017
WDEA Uniform County Truck Permit Committee
Williams County New Highway Department Building 

March 7, 2017
North Dakota Petroleum Council Legislative Social
  BSC NECE, Bismarck

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

Oil prices and rig count
February 24, 2017

WTI Crude: $54.03
                                                  Brent Crude: $56.03
                                                 Natural Gas: $2.76

              North Dakota  Active Drills: 41 (up 1)        2/24/16 -- 39 rigs

Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

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