Rural North Dakotans Protest DOT Shop Closings

More than 100 people packed a legislative committee room this week to protest plans by the ND Department of Transportation to close eight regional highway maintenance shops. The move is intended as a cost cutting measure, estimated to save $2.1 million per year. Included on the list is the highway shop at New England in Hettinger County.

Among those who testified against the proposal was Assistant Senate Majority Leader Jerry Klein.  The shop in his hometown of Fessenden is on the closure list.  Others include Courtenay, Gackle, Litchville, Finley, Mayville and Starkweather. 

Sen. Klein said the state needs to carefully consider the impact to public safety when looking for ways to cut costs.

Click here to listen to Senator Klein’s comments.

--Geoff Simon

ND Legislative Committee Okays Re-Frac Study

The House Energy and Natural Resources Committee this week approved a resolution that calls for an interim legislative study of the estimated fiscal impact to the state of re-fracturing existing oil wells. 

HCR 3027, introduced by Representative Roscoe Streyle, R-Minot, notes that research has shown that a small increase in the percentage of oil recovered can result in billions of barrels of additional oil production.  Streyle’s resolution asks legislators to study whether the state should offer financial incentives to encourage companies to re-frac Bakken wells. 

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

--Geoff Simon

Mud Flap Bill Gets Stuck in Committee

A bill aimed at reducing the number of broken windshields due to heavy truck traffic ran into opposition in the House Transportation Committee this week, and will head to the House floor next week with a Do NOT Pass recommendation.

SB 2341 requires all commercial trucks to have mud flaps that cover the rear wheels. Some committee members said the legislation wasn’t necessary, even though the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Brad Bekkedahl, R-Williston, said North Dakota is one of just 11 states that doesn’t require mud flaps. The original version of Bekkedahl’s legislation also required the use of tarps if a truck was equipped with one, but that requirement has been deleted.

--Geoff Simon

Aberle Elected to Chair Uniform Truck Permit Committee

Members of WDEA’s Uniform Truck Permit Committee elected Williams County Commissioner Wayne Aberle as their new chairman at the committee’s meeting Wednesday in Williston.
Aberle represents District 3, which lies entirely within the city of Williston. Truck permit committee members also elected Bowman County Deputy Sheriff Jordan Fisher as Vice Chairman.

At its meeting this week, the committee discussed the expansion of the permit system to a state-wide system. In anticipation of the expansion, the WDEA Executive Committee updated the permit system bylaws.

--Geoff Simon

Mountrail County firms up road frost laws and load restrictions

Mountrail County Highway Department staff presented the requirements of the frost law for Mountrail County to approximately 80 people across the northwestern portion of the state.
Mary Trahan explained the Frost Law and how it was developed by NDDOT.

Mountrail County follows NDDOT's frost law, and Trahan also presented where the townships sit in reference to the county's regulations. Most townships have an agreement with Mountrail County. However, the ones that do not have an agreement, have their own rules and what roads to use, etc. So, truckers have to look at the maps and get all parties with road jurisdiction approvals before any permit can be issued.


Related Story:
Truck inspections return to normal.  The Cannonball DAPL protest siphoned off law enforcement to protect private property during the protest. Now, those law enforcement personnel are returning to assigned duties, including truck inspection.

Members Voice – Golden Valley County

The Golden Valley County budget is tight. Last fall, the fiscally conservative county commissioners looked ahead to align income and expenses. The county treasurer told commissioners that without changes, the county could be out of money by fiscal year 2019. Golden Valley County Commission Chairman Troy Tescher said the commission cut budgets, laid off county employees and increased taxes.  

State to collect millions with Dakota Access Pipeline completion

North Dakota stands to gain more than $110 million annually in tax revenue after oil begins coursing through the Dakota Access pipeline, an analysis by The Associated Press shows.

American Midstream buys in to Dakota Access Pipeline

The new DAPL interconnect will tie into  American Midstream Partners Bakken crude oil gathering system which consists of interstate pipelines with capacity to transport up to approximately 40,000 barrels per day of crude oil. In addition, the American Midstream Bakken crude oil gathering system has crude oil trucking capabilities located near Watford City, ND that provides greater producer access to market alternatives and off-take capabilities.

Ness: News of Bakken Demise Greatly Exaggerated

An article published this week in Forbes Magazine paints an extremely pessimistic outlook for Bakken oil production.  Author Art Berman, a petroleum geologist, claims the decline in production that started in January 2015 is “probably not reversible,” noting that “new well performance has deteriorated, gas-oil ratios have increased and water cuts are rising.”

Ron Ness, President of the ND Petroleum Council, has a decidedly different view of the Bakken’s future. Ness points out recent production declines are almost entirely related to winter weather.  He also said rig counts are climbing in North Dakota, and lifetime production volumes from individual wells have improved.

Click here to listen to comments from Ness.  

Click here to read the Forbes article

New "Break-even" prices keeps oil pumping

Back in 2013, the cost of production in Bakken, Eagle Ford, Niobrara, Permian Delaware, and Permian Midland were respectively $98, $85, $81, $73, and $66 per barrel. As of latest data, these numbers have declined to $39, $38, $34, $33, and $29 respectively.

Here's the story

Stanton Station is done -- dismantling underway

The Minnesota-based company said in July it would shutter the plant rather than move forward with expensive upgrades. Last week, the plant's control panel and power was disconnected from the power grid for the final time, according to the   Bismarck Tribune (story is here).

Governor's Cabinet-level Energy and Environmental Health 

House committee members will be taking a crack at whether a proposal to split off a part of the North Dakota Department of Health to create a separate cabinet-level agency is a proper way to improve government efficiency.

Germany Facing Mass Blackouts Because The Wind And Sun Won’t Cooperate

Due to a long phase without sufficient wind and sun, the German power grid has come under pressure in January according to data from the Germany. The union is fighting for the continuation of coal-fired and natural gas power plants.

Read more: 
Quick Connect

Alberta Clipper pipeline meeting expected to draw activists, large crowd.  Bismarck Tribune story is here

Environmentalists dig in for battle against fossil fuels with a movement called “The Solutions Project.”  Read more here

Bakken is not dead according to Financial analysts.

Protesters battle oil trains to CA refinery

Upcoming Events

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

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

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

Oil prices and rig count
March 3, 2017

 WTI Crude: $53.34
                                                   Brent Crude: $55.83
                                                 Natural Gas: $2.82

              North Dakota  Active Drills: 45 (up 4)        3/3/16 -- 34 rigs

Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

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