Hub City, Impact Grant Funding Discussions Starting to Heat Up

Legislators representing oil-producing counties aren’t happy with the initial funding proposal delivered by legislative leaders, and negotiations are likely to get heated in coming days. 

The Hub Cities of Dickinson, Minot and Williston, which are already looking at a revenue loss of 30 percent in the next biennium based on formula changes, would see an additional five percent cut based on a proposal from the House Appropriations Committee.  Most disturbing to western interests, the proposal would terminate all Hub City allocations effective August 31, 2019. 

Also still on the negotiating table are grant commitments made to oil-impacted communities by the 2015 ND Legislature. The decline in oil tax revenue means there will not be enough money this biennium to pay for all the grants, so western legislators are asking for dollars in the 2017-19 budget to make good on the previous commitments. The list includes nearly $40 million pledged for the new Williston airport, $5 million for the Dickinson airport, and $15 million to be distributed among schools in the oil-producing counties. 

Please see this weekend's WDEA legislative report for additional details.

House Approves Bill Establishing State DEQ

The ND House of Representatives this week, by a vote of 69-23, approved SB 2327, which creates a state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The legislation carves out the Environmental Health unit from the state Health Department, making the DEQ a cabinet level position.

Rep. Todd Porter, (R-Mandan), who chairs the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said there are many good reasons to elevate the environmental office.

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

Opponents of the legislation said they were concerned the creation of a new state agency would lead to growth in government. Rep. Porter said growth at the state level would be much better than more government coming from Washington.

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

Legislation Will Allow Schools to Try Innovative Ideas

A bill that will allow North Dakota school districts to try new ideas to better educate students was approved this week by the state House of Representatives.

SB 2186 allows school districts to seek waivers from the state Department of Public Instruction to explore innovate approaches that increase educational opportunities and improve the academic success of students.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Senator Nicole Poolman, (R-Bismarck), who is a teacher herself, said it allows schools to come up with creative ways to made education more effective.

Click here to listen to Sen. Poolman’s comments.

Spill Reporting Bill Approved by ND Senate

Legislation that would no longer require spills of less than 10 barrels to be reported to state regulators was approved on a 31-14 vote in the North Dakota Senate.

Supporters of HB 1151 said the current one barrel threshold in state law means a lot of minor spills get reported, which creates the impression that North Dakota oil producers are careless or irresponsible.

One of the bill’s sponsors,Oley Larsen , (R-Minot), said the higher reporting threshold brings North Dakota more in line with what other states are doing.  And Larsen points out, even though the spills aren’t reported to the state, producers are still required to keep a log of all incidents so landowners will know what’s happening on the well pad.

Click here to listen to Sen. Larsen’s explanation.


Feds Retain Many Post-Pipeline Spill Corrective Actions

Federal officials have decided to keep in place many of the corrective measures they ordered in December after a pipeline spilled about 530,000 gallons of oil in western North Dakota, which was one of the biggest spills in the state's history.

Click here for Associated Press story

Pipeline Siting Bill Clears ND House

Legislation that would streamline the siting of liquid and gas transmission pipelines received unanimous approval this week in the North Dakota House of Representatives.

SB 2286 will consolidate the Public Service Commission pipeline siting process with local planning and zoning decisions. It’s intended to eliminate duplication in the siting procedure because under the current system, many of the same issues are discussed at both state and local hearings.

Lobbyists representing WDEA and counties and townships worked with the oil and gas industry the past several weeks to reach a compromise.  The final product creates timelines for submission of local siting concerns to the PSC, and requires that the legislature study how the process works over the next two years.

Rep. Mike Lefor, (R-Dickinson), who supported the legislation and carried the bill on the House floor, commended WDEA for its efforts to make government more efficient.

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

  What is driving Bakken WTI prices?

DAPL could drive up Bakken prices

The Dakota Access Pipeline gives the state's producers cheaper access to refineries and other customers on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Market players said they expect this will hasten a revival of output from the Bakken region which fell sharply along with global oil prices during the past two years.

"We're back to growth in the Bakken," Hess Corp Chief Executive Officer John Hess said in a recent interview. The New York-based company has contracts to send roughly half its daily North Dakota output through DAPL. For 2017, Hess has said its Bakken production could grow more than 10 percent.

Click here for Reuters story

DUC wells could drive down Bakken prices

After a slight drop in drilled but uncompleted wells (DUC), last year, the DUC count is up again.  The DUC list has increased to 5,443 as of February 2017, an increase of roughly 8 percent since October.

Click here for the story

Efficiency  improves safety, operations and prices

Weatherford and Lufkin—two giants in the artificial lift field—have introduced technology innovations to make crude extraction safer, less costly and more efficient.

Former ND PSC CommissionerTony Clark says more pipelines needed

America Still Needs Pipeline Infrastructure

Looking beyond Dakota Access to the future of other pipeline infrastructure projects, some key facts merit consideration.

First, for the foreseeable future, residents of the United States will continue to rely on petroleum products such as crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids like butane, ethane and propane to sustain their everyday lives. Second, pipelines remain, by far, the safest means by which to transport those energy goods. Third, the United States continues to work steadily toward the diversification of its energy sources, utilizing energy goods produced here at home and lessening our reliance on energy from volatile regions elsewhere in the world.  Fourth, a pressing need for infrastructure remains in growing production regions within the United States – such as the Marcellus, Bakken, and Permian shale regions – to markets within and for export to allies abroad.

Click here for full story

Tony Clark, was a Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner from 2012-2016, and a North Dakota Public Service Commissioner from 2001-2012.

Meridian refinery at Belfield sets standards for clean air 

Meridian Energy Group, Inc., is currently finalizing an amendment to further reduce emission levels of its Davis Refinery planned for Belfield, ND. The amendment to the application filed this past October with the North Dakota Department of Health, Air Quality Division includes process upgrades to reduce emissions across the board including an SO2 reduction of 50% and a NOx reduction of nearly 30%.  

The Davis Refinery, already qualifying as a Minor Synthetic Source with its original implementation of the industry Best Available Control Technology will now leave zero doubt that it will set new industry standards with the submission of this amendment.  

ZIA Engineering & Environmental Consultants, who have been tasked with running the Davis technology through the modeling programs are working toward an early April amendment submittal to keep Meridian on track for a Permit To Construct decision by early Summer 2017. 
Bowman Industrial Park ready to take off at old airport

A zoning change is the final hurdle for an industrial park on the former Bowman Municipal Airport site after the Federal Aviation Administration released the former Bowman Airport land to be redeveloped. For more than a year, Bowman officials have been working toward developing the area west of town to become an industrial park.  The airport was moved to a larger site east of Bowman, making the old airport land available for development. 

Quick Connect

Former Williston Airport Director Steven Kjergaard settles in Washington state.  Spokesman Review

North Dakota one of several states legislating wind energy.  Inside Climate News

Which U.S. States produce the most energyMotley Fool

How DNA could expand shale oil recovery. Business Insider

Maryland set to ban fracking.  Inside Climate News

Upcoming Events

April 4
Williston Basin Chapter API Monthly Meeting
Grand Williston Hotel

April 6
Truck Weight Education Class
  Minot ND 

April 8, 2017 
Dickinson Police & Fire Heroes Ball
Ramada Grand

April 18-20
Lignite Council Annual Meeting
Bismarck Event Center

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
March 31, 2017

    WTI Crude: $50.70
                                                   Brent Crude: $53.61
                                                 Natural Gas: $3.19

              North Dakota  Active Drills: 49 (unch)        3/31/16 -- 30 rigs

Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

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