Few scenes on Earth are as colorful as the North Dakota Badlands when fall colors are at their peak. This photo of Icebox Canyon was taken by Jesse Kolar in late September 2014. See more of Jesse's photos on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/136008489@N05.
Lt. Governor to Speak at 9:30 on Oct. 14
Anyone interested in learning the latest developments on the energy front in North Dakota should plan to attend the Western Dakota Energy Association's annual meeting to be held October 13-14 at The ARC in Williston.
There's still time to register for the two-day event, which features an evening social, breakfast and lunch, and snacks during morning and afternoon breaks. Click here to register online, or register at the door.
The in-person meeting will get underway at 1:00 Wednesday afternoon, and will begin with Lynn Helms, one of the event's favorite speakers. Helms, the director of the Department of Mineral Resources, will deliver his traditional county-by-county production forecast report at 1:15, following opening remarks by WDEA President Shannon Holter and a welcome message from Williams County Commission Chairman Steve Kemp.
The opening day will also feature presentations about the emerging hydrogen economy, updates regarding LoadPass Permits and the Wise Roads project, a panel discussion of transportation and truck permitting issues, and a status report on North Dakota's impending solutions to dispose of TENORM (technologically-enhanced, naturally-occurring radioactive material). Attendees of the evening social will be entertained by singer/songwriter Alma Cook, and hear an update on efforts to four-lane portions of Highway 85 from Cal Klewin, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association.
Day Two features remarks at 9:30 from Lt. Governor Brent Sanford. His presentation was previously planned over the noon hour, but was moved up due to a scheduling conflict. Sanford's noon keynote spot will be filled by Watford City Senator Dale Patten, who will describe opportunities created by energy legislation passed in 2021.
The second day kicks off with a welcome message from Williston Mayor Howard Klug. The morning agenda includes presentations about a new national shale energy organization, challenges for natural gas midstream operators, a report on development of the Bakken Area Skills Center, a panel discussion on education funding and other school-related issues, remarks from Williston State College President Bernell Hirning, and a report on interim legislative activity from Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner.
The wrap-up Thursday afternoon includes a review of oil and natural gas takeaway capacity from ND Pipeline Authority Director Justin Kringstad, an electric market update from Transmission Authority Director John Weeda, and concludes with election of the WDEA Executive Committee. Board members up for election who are eligible to serve an additional three-year term include Bowman Mayor Lyn James, Williams County Commissioner David Montgomery, Washburn Superintendent Brad Rinas who represents the Coal Conversion Counties, and a new member will be chosen to represent education members to replace Dickinson Superintendent Shon Hocker, who resigned after accepting a position in Idaho.
Legislators to Review Use of ARPA Funds
The North Dakota Legislature's interim House and Senate Appropriations Committees have scheduled separate meetings at the Capitol next week to begin a review of potential uses of federal assistance provided through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Last week, Governor Doug Burgum proposed an extensive list of potential uses developed through consultation with executive branch agencies. The governor's "Accelerate ND" plan, as he called it, included using a portion of the state’s near-record ending fund balance from the 2019-21 budget to provide $207 million of state income tax credits over two years.
Both budget-writing committees will meet October 12-13. The meeting notices for the two committees indicate they will consider proposals to use state fiscal recovery funds received through the ARPA; review legislative appropriations from the federal Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund and consider proposals to use remaining funds, as well as consider other proposals for budget adjustments.
The Senate's agenda will consider possible use of funds for information technology projects and economic development. The House agenda specifically notes possible use of funds for infrastructure projects, capital improvements and aid to political subdivisions. House members will meet in the Brynhild Haugland Room, while Senate members will meet in the Roughrider Room. Meetings will begin at 9:00 a.m. both days.
Legislators will act on spending recommendations during a special session on a date yet to be determined in November.
Both appropriations committee meetings can be viewed statewide via Legislative Video.
Biden Action to Have Big Effect Marginal Wells
The head of the Independent Petroleum Association of America says pending methane rules being pushed by the Biden Administration could have a huge effect on small oil producers throughout the United States.
IPAA Executive Director Lee Fuller said the methane regulations being developed by the EPA are yet another assault on the oil and gas industry. Fuller notes that methane emissions account for about nine percent of the total greenhouse gas inventory, and are divided roughly in thirds between the oil industry, agriculture and other industries, primarily landfills. But despite the oil industry's minor contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, Biden's EPA is zeroing in on oil and gas.
Click here to listen to Fuller's comments.
Fuller, who was interviewed by Jason Spiess for The Crude Life, said the industry is concerned the EPA will not make a distinction between large-producing wells, and the estimated 770,000 wells that produce less than 15 barrels per day.
Click here to listen to Fuller's comments.
Fuller said federal regulatory agencies have a history of imposing different standards based on the scale of industrial operations. He said that principle can be applied to smaller oil wells, but IPAA is concerned the EPA won't make that distinction.
Click here to listen to Fuller's comments.
In addition to the pending methane regulations, oil industry groups are also pushing back against Congressional efforts to impose new fees or taxes on energy companies. Three variations of a methane tax have been introduced by House Democrats, IPAA's analysis of which shows increases to customer natural gas bills ranging from 12 to 34 percent, or up to $242 per year.
Click here to listen to The Crude Life interview with Lee Fuller.
Northern Oil and Gas Announces $154M Deal
Minnesota-based Northern Oil & Gas announced a deal this week to acquire non-operated interests from Comstock Resources across more than 400 producing wells located primarily in Williams, McKenzie, Mountrail and Dunn Counties.
Northern said it expects to fund the $154 million acquisition with cash on hand, operating free cash flow and borrowings under Northern’s revolving credit facility.
“We remain consistent with our strategy,” said Northern CEO Nick O’Grady. “The focus continues on being the natural consolidator of working interests and executing with financial discipline, concentrating on cost of entry, return on capital employed and cash flow net to our shareholders."
October production on the assets is expected to be greater than 4,500 Boe per day, and Northern expects average production of more than 4,100 Boe per day in 2022.
“This is our third major transaction this year in as many basins,” said Adam Dirlam, Chief Operating Officer of Northern. “Our team’s ability to actively pivot has provided for consistent optionality to pursue value-enhancing opportunities in the most prolific basins across the US.”
The effective date for the transaction is October 1, 2021 and Northern expects to close the transaction within 40 days. Comstock Resources is controlled by Jerry Jones, who owns the Dallas Cowboys football team.
Will Require "Unprecedented Recovery"
School administrators have long suspected the use of virtual instruction and other alternative learning methods were not adequate to replace learning that occurs in the classroom, and now there's data to back it up.
State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler told a committee of legislators this week that new test information shows a decline in student math and English proficiency during the 2020-21 school year. The results offer evidence about how the COVID-19 pandemic affected student learning in North Dakota.
The State Assessment in English/Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics is given annually, in the spring of each year, to students in grades three through eight, and to students in the 10th grade. The percentage of students who scored as “proficient” or “advanced” in English/Language Arts dropped five percent compared to pre-pandemic testing in the spring of 2019. In mathematics, the percentage scoring “proficient” or “advanced” was down seven percent compared to 2019 scores.
Baesler, in a presentation to the interim Education Funding Committee, said the state has never before seen such a significant drop, and educators will have their work cut out for them helping the students get caught up.
Click here to listen to Baesler's comments.
Osnabrock Rep. David Monson, a retired school administrator, said many factors affect learning, but it was obvious the dramatic decline was attributable to the pandemic.
Click here to listen to Monson's comments.
Baesler agreed with Monson. She said North Dakota school districts did their best to use alternative methods to teach students through the pandemic, but the disruption it caused was difficult to overcome.
Click here to listen to Baesler's comments.
Baesler said it's fortunate schools have been provided unprecedented resources to reverse the trends. She noted that the legislature set aside resources to help pandemic-related learning recovery, including increased funding for summer school, virtual instruction programs, and tutoring.
The new assessment information has been integrated into North Dakota’s Insights Dashboard, which displays an assortment of information broken out by school and district, as well as at the state level. ND State Assessment results in mathematics, science and English are available, as are results for the ACT college entrance exam, which is taken in high school.
Click here to watch recorded legislative video of the committee meeting.
Sector Gets Voice on MISO Advisory Committee
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a proposal this week from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) to give voting rights to the recently-created coal industry affiliate on MISO’s Advisory Committee.
The affiliate sector is made up of entities representing coal producers, electricity generators, railroads, barge operators and suppliers to the coal industry, along with major industrial users, chambers of commerce and other stakeholders. The sector helps ensure the unique perspective of traditional dispatchable power sources are heard as part of the MISO stakeholder process, according to Michelle Bloodworth, President and CEO of America’s Power.
“We are pleased that FERC approved MISO’s proposal to provide voting rights to the Affiliate Sector because it recognizes the importance of eventually ensuring the entire coal supply chain has a full and equal voice in the grid operator’s stakeholder process," Bloodworth said. "MISO’s coal fleet, which provides reliable dispatchable power across the 15 states within the service territory, is the largest in the country, representing nearly one fourth of the nation’s coal fleet.”
Bloodworth said America's Power will continue to pursue policies that properly value the attributes of the coal fleet and the entire coal supply chain because of the important role they play in supporting the reliability and resilience of the electric grid.
Welcome Rainfall Expected This Weekend
The hot, dry weather experienced throughout much of North Dakota this summer isn't letting up even as fall arrives.
New weather records were set Tuesday and Wednesday in western North Dakota. Dickinson hit 93°F on Tuesday and 87°F on Wednesday, breaking previous marks that were set in 1920. Minot reached 91°F on Tuesday, breaking the old mark of 87°F set just 10 years ago. Minot tied its previous record on Wednesday, topping out at 90°F.
Bismarck also set a new record high this week and came near the record for most days that reached 90 degrees, with 51 this year. The record is 53 days set during the Dust Bowl in 1936.
Drought conditions continue to persist throughout nearly the entire state, with only a small area in southeastern ND reporting normal soil moisture conditions. However, a developing low pressure system moving into the Northern Plains will likely bring a period of enhanced rainfall together with gusty winds across the region. Isolated severe thunderstorms are not out of the question for parts of the area especially Saturday night into early Sunday.
Engineer Company Headed to the Border
Gov. Doug Burgum and Major General Alan Dohrmann joined family and friends in Bismarck today for a send off of 125 North Dakota National Guard soldiers who will spend a year helping secure the U.S.-Mexican border.
The soldiers from the Bismarck-based multi-role bridge unit will support U.S. Customs and Border Protection in ongoing efforts to secure the border. The mobilization of ND National Guard soldiers was requested by the U.S. Army through the National Guard Bureau.
Gov. Burgum earlier this week repeated his call for the Biden administration to address the humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border. He concurred with the deployment, and said he plans to visit the soldiers at the border during their tour. Burgum was critical of Biden's inaction at the southern border, particularly in light of the administration's continuing travel ban at the northern border.
“It’s been over two weeks since I and 25 fellow governors sent a joint letter urging President Biden to meet with us to discuss solutions to the ongoing crisis at the southern border, and we still have not received an answer," Burgum said. "Meanwhile, as the administration fails to address the southern border crisis, it continues to hold firm to its baffling decision to extend the ban on nonessential land-based travel from Canada into the United States, even though vaccinated Canadians can fly into the U.S. and vaccinated Americans have been allowed into Canada since August 9."
The September 20 letter sent by 26 governors to Biden followed a letter sent by Burgum and 19 other governors in May urging the administration to take action to end the humanitarian crisis and secure the southern border. Burgum also has joined other border-state governors and premiers of Canadian provinces in calling on the administration to open the northern border to nonessential travel.
Application Deadline is October 15
The 2022 Leadership North Dakota Program is seeking applications from professionals with the desire to be an effective leader, enhance their career and expand their personal network.
Participants will meet once per month for six months to gain advanced leadership skills, explore major issues facing leaders today, and participate in high-level networking opportunities. The advanced curriculum this year will highlight Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Each of the monthly meetings will focus on the habits outlined in the book, and will be hosted in a different North Dakota community:
- December 8th, 2021: Virtual Orientation
- January 12-13, 2022: Bismarck
- February 16-17, 2022: Fargo
- March 16-17, 2022: Dickinson
- April 13-14, 2022: Grand Forks
- May 18-19, 2022: Watford City
- June 15-16, 2022: Bismarck
Participants will expand their network while establishing valuable connections with subject matter experts and leaders from across the state. The program will investigate the significant challenges facing society today, such as diversity and inclusion, mental health, law and order, hyper-partisanship and crisis leadership.
The cost for the program is $2,500, which includes single-occupancy lodging, entertainment, meals, materials, and transportation during each session. Participants are responsible for their travel to and from sessions.
The application deadline is October 15. Go to LeadershipND.org to learn more.
Mineral Royalty Division Shares Tax Tools
The Mineral Royalty Division of the State Auditor's office has announced the availability of new resources for North Dakotans to help them access and understand revenue collections and state and federal taxes.
Tools available to sort through the Mineral Royalty Division's data include:
- The Department of Interior's interactive Natural Resources Revenue Data site, which allows users to filter revenue, production and disbursements across the country, and view oil production from federal lands.
- The Office of the State Treasurer's site, which shows historical revenue distribution for counties across North Dakota, including specific details regarding Counties, Cities, School Districts, Townships and Tribes.
“These tools are helpful for people across our state to better understand where their money is going,” Mineral Royalties Audit Manager Dennis Roller said. “By having these tools that are interactive and easy to filter, people can learn more about the tremendous amount of dollars that are allocated across our nation.”
The Mineral Royalty Division, which is funded by the federal government, regularly conducts compliance reviews and audits on oil, gas, and coal royalty payments and revenues in the state.
Reduced Speed, Delays to be Expected
The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) is scheduled to inspect the Broadway Bridge on Highway 83 in Minot Wednesday, October 13.
NDDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration and the city of Minot, replaced the bridge in the heart of Minot in a project that started in March 2017 and was completed at the end of 2018. It is estimated the bridge carries about 30,000 vehicles per day.
The inspection will take place from approximately 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the bridge. The speed limit will be reduced throughout the work zone and short delays are expected. North and southbound traffic will be reduced to single lanes from First Avenue Southwest to Fourth Avenue Northwest.
The NDDOT reminds motorists to slow down and use caution throughout the work zone.
Right of Way Must be Clear by Nov. 1
Rights of way on North Dakota highways must be cleared of hay bales by November 1. If any remain after that date, they will be removed as directed by the NDDOT District Engineer.
According to the ND Department of Transportation, bales need to be removed for snow management and safety reasons.
State law prohibits hay from being placed in the right of way except on the outer edge. Large round bales must not be placed on in-slopes or within 60 feet of the edge of the driving lane.
- Prentice: Financing for Davis refinery six to eight months out -- Williston Herald
- Judge OKs $20 million settlement for record oil field spill -- Bismarck Tribune
- Proposed Williams County pipeline to connect to Dakota Access -- Bismarck Tribune
- Williams County won't limit number of TENORM landfills -- Williston Herald
- Jurisdiction of Marathon wind energy project to remain with county in ETZ expansion -- Dickinson Press
- Explosion, fire reported at McKenzie County oil well site -- Bismarck Tribune
- North Dakota on track to have the highest GDP per capita in the nation -- Fargo Forum
- House Majority Leader hopes for short redistricting session -- Prairie Public
- Port: It shouldn't take eight years to replace a pipeline -- Fargo Forum
- Saltwater spill reported at Williams County disposal site -- Bismarck Tribune
- NDPC presents Rep. Craig Headland with Outstanding Public Service Award -- Jamestown Sun
- North Dakota permits second TENORM slurry well in McKenzie Co. -- Williston Herald
- Bakken BBQ unveil $70,000 for Make-A-Wish North Dakota -- Dickinson Press
- Williston Mayor travels to D.C. to speak on spending bills -- KFYR-TV
- Large grass fire burns 320 acres in Dunn Co., fire officials advise caution -- Dickinson Press
- This season, North Dakotans can apply online for home heating help -- Bowman County Pioneer
- Grant helps Watford City business train needed workforce -- McKenzie County Farmer
- South Main Reconstruction will be completed by Oct. 26 -- Tioga Tribune
- Ground broken for the new fairgrounds southwest of Watford City -- McKenzie County Farmer
- Firemen stress fire prevention to area students -- McKenzie County Farmer
- Should North Dakota schools remove the F from grading scales -- Hot 97.5
- Students gain aviation insights at Fly-ND Career Expo -- Minot Daily News
- ND teacher's union urges districts to provide paid COVID-19 leave -- Dickinson Press
- Crews race to limit damage from major California oil spill -- Bismarck Tribune
- California oil spill cause probed, ship anchor cited as possibility -- Fargo Forum
- Pipeline from California oil spill was moved 105 feet along sea floor -- Grand Forks Herald
- New Mexico governor thanks oil and gas, cheers hydrogen plan -- Bismarck Tribune
- Oil analysts predict prolonged rally as OPEC resists calls to ramp up supply -- CNBC
- Canada cites US treaty in pipeline dispute in Michigan -- Bismarck Tribune
- Gas spike set to squeeze oil market as users switch -- Reuters
- Americans are paying the most for gasoline in seven years -- CNBC
- Punitive natural gas tax risks U.S. energy leadership, economic recovery -- Trib Live
Factoid of the Week
The ARC - Williston
Bismarck Event Center
Ramkota Hotel - Bismarck
October 8, 2021
WTI Crude: $79.35
Brent Crude: $82.39
Natural Gas: $5.57
North Dakota Active Oil Rigs: 27 (Down 1) 10/8/2020 -- 11 rigs