Capitol buried in work
Geoff Simon says a busy week ahead for the ND Legislature as any bill with a monetary impact that's in a policy committee must be re-referred to the Appropriations Committees by Feb. 6

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“Spill Bill” Advances in North Dakota House

The North Dakota House of Representatives voted 82-11 this week to approve HB 1151 that would no longer require spills of less than 10 barrels on a well pad to be reported to state regulators.

Supporters of the legislation are concerned the state’s oil producers are being unfairly characterized as irresponsible operators because so many minor spills are reported.  The original bill has been amended to specify that smaller spills need not be reported, but only if they are contained on a well pad that has an impermeable liner.

Landowners were concerned that if spills aren’t reported, they might not get cleaned up.  But House Energy & Natural Resources Committee Chairman Todd Porter, R-Mandan, explained that landowners will still be able to find out if any incidents occur on the well site.

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

Large Truck Network Bill Considered

The North Dakota Legislature is considering a bill to establish a “large truck primary highway network” in North Dakota. The legislation would apply to state highways 2, 83, 85 and 52 from Minot to the Canadian border, and Interstates 29 and 94 if Congress approves.

Dean Gorder, Executive Director of the ND Trade Office, explained to WDEA that the truck network is aimed at making North Dakota more competitive with its neighbors.

Click here to listen to Gorder’s explanation.

Crunch Week in the Legislature for Key WDEA Legislation

Sometimes the wheels of government turn slowly, and sometimes it seems everything happens at once. The latter will be the case next week when WDEA’s top three priority bills all have their first committee hearing in the North Dakota Legislature

Click here to read summary of WDEA’s top three priority bills

WDEA Opposes Tax Exemption Sought for Disposal Wells

WDEA delivered testimony in opposition to SB 2252, legislation that would make all saltwater disposal wells in North Dakota exempt from property taxes.

Currently tax directors in oil-producing counties consider producer-owned disposal wells exempt because under the law, producers pay gross production taxes in lieu of property taxes.

The bill was advocated by MBI Energy Services. The company’s witness reasoned that because its customers pay gross production taxes, then it should also be exempt from property taxes.

WDEA testified to the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee that the commercial disposal wells should not be exempt from property taxes because the companies do not pay GPT taxes themselves.  There are dozens of commercial wells scattered throughout the Bakken.  In the four core counties of Dunn, McKenzie, Mountrail and Williams, there are more than 100 disposal wells that offer their service to oil producers. Combined, those well owners paid more than $700,000 in property taxes in 2016.

ND coal production reaches 27.7 million tons in 2016

The 27.7 million tons of lignite coal produced in North Dakota in 2016 was slightly lower than the five year average of 28.1 million tons, but bucked the national trend, which saw U.S. coal production fall to its lowest level since 1978.

The largest lignite mine in the world – the Freedom Mine north of Beulah – sold the most coal during 2016. More than 14 million tons of lignite were produced and sold to the Antelope Valley Station, Leland Olds Station and the Great Plains Synfuels Plant. All three plants are owned by Basin Electric Power Cooperative.

Round up of DAPL and Keystone XL news

President Donald Trump's Dakota Access pipeline order on Tuesday did not instruct the Corps of Engineers to change its position. But the president ordered the agency to consider "whether to rescind or modify" its December determination.  What happens next? A recent court filing indicates the company is ready to drill under Lake Oahe if it gets permission from the Corps. The company has entry and exit holes drilled on either side and has already put oil in the pipeline leading up to the lake in anticipation of finishing the project.

The White House decision on the two pipelines will meet with resistance. Protests and court challenges are expected in North Dakota and in Washington.

Member's Voice: 2016 was a good year for Ward County

Ward County Commission Chairman Larry Louser said 2016 was a good year for the county budget. Ward County got several road projects completed, “More than expected,” he said.  Depending on how much money is spent on snow clearing, more road projects next summer are anticipated.

              JLG Architects design of Ward County Jail building

Bakken oil production projections trend down

Oil production in the Bakken is expected to drop next month while production in the Permian Basin is expected to surge.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects Bakken production to post the largest oil production drop of all seven major plays next month.

 Click chart below to view full screen
Quick connect
Other news of interest

  • The cost of blocking oil and gas infrastructure. The continued blocking of oil and natural gas pipeline project proposals and the loss of other energy generation options could result in an electricity shortfall of 31 percent in the United States by 2030.
    Read the full Consumer Energy story here

Upcoming Events

February 4, 2017
February 20, 21, 2017
5th Annual Reclamation Conference
Dickinson, ND

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
January 20, 2015

WTI Crude: $53.30
                                                   Brent Crude: $55.46
                                                 Natural Gas: $3.20

              North Dakota  Active Drills: 38 (Up 2)        1/20/16 -- 48 rigs

Geoff Simon
Editor/Executive Director

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