Even through the haze from distant wildfires, the views of the North Dakota Badlands at the Bully Pulpit Golf Course are beyond compare. Lower right in the photo is the No. 16 green.
Cooperative to Close Deal Late This Year
Great River Energy's member cooperatives have voted to approve the sale of Coal Creek Station and its associated direct current transmission line to Rainbow Energy Center LLC.
The GRE member cooperatives also approved a related purchase power agreement under which GRE will buy 1,050 megawatts of power from Rainbow for two years, followed by 300 megawatts for eight more years. GRE, based in Maple Grove, Minnesota, projected that the transaction could save its members $130 million compared with shutting down Coal Creek Station.
The 1,151 megawatt power plant, the largest in North Dakota, is located about midway between Washburn and Underwood. The announcement is great news for the 750 employees who work at Coal Creek and the adjacent Falkirk Mine which supplies coal to the plant. The governor's office applauded the news.
“This is another huge step forward in securing a long-term, viable future for Coal Creek Station, its workers and the communities that depend on the hundreds of jobs at Coal Creek and the nearby Falkirk Mine,” Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford said in a joint statement.
GRE announced in May 2020 that it planned to shut down Coal Creek Station during the second half of 2022. Since that time Burgum and Sanford have been actively engaged in conversations to secure a buyer for the plant. The pending sale to Rainbow Energy was announced June 30. The company indicated that developing a system to capture and store the plant's carbon dioxide emissions is part of its plan for the facility's future.“The successful implementation of carbon capture and storage is central to our plans at Coal Creek Station,” said Rainbow Energy Marketing Corp. President Stacy L. Tschider. “As a privately held company, we are uniquely positioned to continue the successful legacy that Great River Energy and its employees have established in North Dakota.”
The sale of Coal Creek Station and the DC line is expected to close later this year.
Injection of Gas, Water and Surfactant
Denver-based Liberty Resources plans to take another run at an enhanced oil recovery project east of Tioga near Powers Lake.
The ND Industrial Commission approved the company's application this week to use an injection well for EOR purposes. Liberty previously worked in cooperation with EERC and the Department of Energy on an EOR project in its Stomping Horse Complex in Williams County. The project injected rich gas into an existing oil-bearing formation, but was not able to build adequate pressure to achieve the desired result.
The project approved this week is different, according to Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources. Helms said Liberty's injection mix will include a bio-surfactant intended to improve the lubricity of underground oil.
Click here to listen to Helms' comments.
Helms said Creedence Energy is supplying its ag-based bio-surfactant for the project. He said Liberty is planning to do two injection cycles. The project will be reviewed again in a year.
Click here to watch a Creedence Energy video on the use of bio-surfactants.
Control Expected by Week's End
A specialized fire response team is on the site of an oil well pad fire that started last Thursday, and hope to have the blaze under control by the end of this week.
The well pad owned by Petro-Hunt is located on federal land north of Charlson near Lake Sakakawea. Petro-Hunt has brought in Texas-based Wild Well Control to determine the best method of getting the fire under control. In the interest of public safety, roads have been closed in the area and boaters are advised to avoid the shoreline near the fire.
Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, briefed members of the state Industrial Commission on the fire at a meeting on Tuesday. He said three wells are on fire, and a fourth has been shut down to prevent it from catching fire as well.
Click here to listen to Helms' comments.
Helms said the exact cause of the blaze is unknown, but company officials have attributed it to the failure of a blowout preventer, which is used to contain the intense pressure found in some underground oil and gas formations.
Click here to listen to Helms' comments.
State officials say the amount of oil spilled and burned is not yet known. A berm is in place around the well pad to contain the spill. No one has been injured.
Sites in Golden Valley, McKenzie Co.
The network of weather stations in the Wise Roads network grew to 39 this week with the installation of new sites in Golden Valley and McKenzie Counties.
Sentinel Butte 10N, like its name implies, is located 10 miles north of Sentinel Butte. Poker Jim is located just west of the Poker Jim Cemetery adjacent to County Rd 38 in southwestern McKenzie County.
The Western Dakota Energy Association launched the Wise Roads project (Weather Information System to Effectively Reduce Oilfield Delays and Disruption) in June 2019. The network of weather stations has been developed in partnership with the North Dakota Ag Weather Network (NDAWN). The project is a response to concerns expressed by the oil industry that weight limit restrictions placed on gravel roads after rain events covered more roads than necessary.
Before the project began, weather data was sparse across the Bakken. NDAWN had just eight weather stations in the region. There was only one in Dunn County, one in McKenzie Counties, two in Mountrail County and four in Williams County. With the installation of Poker Jim this week, there are now 13 stations in McKenzie County, six in Dunn County, nine in Mountrail County and eleven in Williams County. Other new stations have been installed in Billings, Bowman, Burke, Divide and now Golden Valley County.
Most of the stations are equipped with sensors to measure temperature, wind speed and direction, and precipitation. Some also have soil moisture/temperature probes. Several of the newest stations in Phase IV of the project are equipped with just rain gauges and cameras, but that also means they can be located closer to structures and connect to AC power. That allows snow melting equipment to be installed to get a better handle on winter precipitation.
Panel to Advance/Diversify Energy Sector
North Dakota's newly-created Clean Sustainable Energy Authority has a newly-appointed chairman who's had plenty of experience working on energy and economic development issues.
Legislative Management has named Lt. Governor Brent Sanford to serve a two-year term as chairman of the authority, which was created by the 2021 ND Legislature's enactment of HB 1452. The authority's purpose is to support the research and development of large-scale projects that advance energy production, reduce environmental impacts and diversify the state's economy.
Sanford previously served as Mayor of Watford City during the height of North Dakota's oil boom, which allowed him to directly impact decisions surrounding energy development and environmental and community impacts. As lieutenant governor, he leads the North Dakota Trade Office, chairs the State Investment Board, and serves as an ex-officio member on the EmPower Commission.
The legislation creating the authority provided for eight voting members -- two each from the Lignite Research Council, Oil and Gas Research Council, and Renewable Energy Council -- and another named by the Western Dakota Energy Association. Read this article in WDEA's July 23 newsletter for a rundown of the appointees.
The first scheduled meeting of the authority has yet to be announced.
In response to the demand on fire departments across the state, the ND Forest Service, in conjunction with the ND Department of Emergency Services, has established a Wildland Fire Task Force.
Thanks to a nearly snowless winter and a hot, dry summer, North Dakota has been witness to nearly 1,700 fires burning more than 112,000 acres across the state this year, equivalent to roughly 175 square miles.
The task force will allow local fire departments to respond to fires outside of their jurisdiction and allow the departments to coordinate directly with the Forest Service. The task force has already allowed the Williston Fire Department and Williston Rural Fire Department to work together to put out a fire spanning 50 to 100 acres.
Fire departments can volunteer to be assigned to the Wildland Fire Task Force for weeklong increments consisting of 12-hour shifts. The length of those assignments can be extended up to 21 days.
To learn more about fire safety and to access burn ban and fire danger maps for local counties, visit the ND Response website. Click here to read James Miller's article about the task force in the Dickinson Press.
MDU/WBI to Add Service to Kindred
Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. and WBI Energy have announced plans for a natural gas pipeline expansion project in southeastern North Dakota that will bring more gas to Wahpeton, and extend natural gas service to Kindred.
Montana-Dakota has secured utility customer contracts that require 10 million cubic feet of firm natural gas service per day in Wahpeton, which exceeds the volume that can be delivered on an uninterruptible basis through the existing pipeline. To supply more gas, WBI Energy plans to build a 60-mile, 12-inch natural gas pipeline to Wahpeton that will have capacity to move 20 million cubic feet per day. Cost of the project is estimated at $75 million and construction is expected to begin in early 2024.
"Wahpeton has been working diligently to bring this additional capacity to our region to mitigate interruptions in service and provide for future opportunities," said Wahpeton Mayor Steven Dale. "Wahpeton has been, and will continue to be, a location of choice for value-added ag processors. Additional firm natural gas supply is vital to keeping Wahpeton at the forefront of those businesses."
As part of the project, Montana-Dakota also will extend natural gas utility service to the city of Kindred, at the request of city officials and residents.
"We have new housing developments and commercial properties interested in building in Kindred," said Mayor Jason DuBord. "Many city residents, businesses, ag processors and surrounding property owners will benefit greatly from access to a firm natural gas supply."
The parent company of North American Coal, the state's largest coal mining company, announced this week that its portfolio of natural resources businesses will now operate under the umbrella of NACCO Natural Resources.
New websites have been launched for each business, along with new business-specific logos. The new websites provide a comprehensive view of each of business:
NACCO Natural Resources represents the collective strength of our businesses, with the new tagline Bringing Natural Resources to Life. The website provides information about each of our businesses as well as investor information for NACCO Industries.
North American Coal has provided generations of dependability by operating surface coal mines for power generation and activated carbon applications.
North American Mining is a trusted mining partner for producers of aggregates, lithium and other minerals.
Mitigation Resources of North America provides stream and wetland mitigation solutions that responsibly restore and enhance ecological resources.
Catapult Mineral Partners acquires and promotes the development of mineral interests.
NACCO President and CEO J.C. Butler said the the new logos and websites recognize the company's success as a leading mining company, growing strong and competitive new businesses.
"This new approach unifies our identity and underscores our commitment to all of our businesses, while creating an umbrella under which we will focus on executing our two key strategies – Protect the Core and Grow and Diversify," Butler said.
Education Events Planned in Six Cities
The Northwest Landowners Association has announced plans for its Summer Education Tour, to be held at six locations in western North Dakota next week.
The sessions will offer information on a number of current topics:
• Landowner rights in pore space (including updates on and discussion of pore space litigation and recent legislation on gas storage)
• Wind development, wind leasing, and landowner groups
• Landowner compensation for energy development (pipelines, well pads, wind farms, pore space, and creation of a landowner compensation database)
• Eminent domain and recent United States Supreme Court cases
• Bonding, plugging and reclamation of abandoned and orphaned oil wells, and reared landowner rights
Education sessions are planned in August 2 in Tioga and New Town, August 3 in Dunn Center and Watford City, August 4 in Bowman and August 5 in Mandan.
Click here for additional information.
Notable Projects Funded in Western ND
The North Dakota Industrial Commission approved $5.8 million in Outdoor Heritage Fund matching grants this week for 16 conservation and recreation projects.
Funding for the grants is generated from oil and gas production tax revenue, and is aimed at supporting projects that improve access to public and private lands for sportsmen, farming and ranching stewardship practices, fish and wildlife habitat preservation and outdoor recreation areas.
The projects approved include:
• $591,200 – Audubon Dakota: Restore idle urban flood lands and riparian areas at 10 sites affecting 320 acres to create healthy habitat for birds and other wildlife, reduce public landowner maintenance output, and provide unique outdoor recreation and education opportunities.
• $69,115 – Bowman Parks and Recreation: Assistance with the outdoor aspects of a new shooting range in the Bowman and Rhame area.
• $10,000 – Center Park Board: New playground equipment for the Lehmkuhl Park in Center.
• $6,471 – Dunn County Park Board: Creation of a nature play area in the county park located at the Lake Ilo National Wildlife Refuge which will include a pollinator plot, animal trail, water feature, climbers, gathering place, and the framework to construct and deconstruct an eagle nest and various shelters.
• $25,370 – Mountrail County: Plant trees to provide shade for gazebos to be constructed at Clear Lake Park.
• $196,356 – Little Missouri Grazing Association: Preserve 8,314 Animal Unit Month of livestock grazing, implement prescribed grazing strategies to improve native grasses and forbs, enhance wildlife habitat, and improve water quality.
• $245,800 – Medora Grazing Association: Develop four partially plugged oil/gas wells in Billings County into water wells to preserve livestock grazing, enhance wildlife habitat, and improve water quality.
Click here to read about other grants in the news release from the Industrial Commission.
First Interim Meeting in Grand Forks
The ND Legislature's interim Energy Development and Transmission Committee will kick off its policy studies with a meeting next week in Grand Forks.
The EDT Committee will meet August 4-5 at the Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) on the UND campus. The committee was assigned three primary study topics by the 2021 Legislature, but its list of responsibilities also includes receipt of more than a dozen reports on other energy-related topics.
The committee's main topics require it to study natural gas and propane infrastructure development in the state; the need, cost, effect, and appropriate process for bonding and ensuring reclamation of coal conversion facilities; and studying deductions for postproduction costs under oil and gas leases. Among the reports it will receive is one to be prepared by the Insurance Commissioner regarding the availability, cost, and risks associated with insurance coverage in the lignite industry. Its ongoing responsibilities include studying the impact of a comprehensive energy policy for the state and the development of each facet of the energy industry from raw materials to sale of the finished product.
The committee agenda includes several reports from staff at EERC covering its current research activities and its latest work regarding hydrogen and other fuel technologies. Committee members will also hear reports from Commerce Commissioner James Leiman, Transmission Authority Director John Weeda and ND Pipeline Authority Director Justin Kringstad.
On Day Two of the meeting, members will participate in EERC's Energizing North Dakota's Future Partnership Summit. The committee is chaired by Beulah Senator Jessica Bell.
Campers to Take Field Trips to Western ND
North Dakota 4-H campers have a new adventure awaiting them this year. The week-long camp will help them learn about energy production in the state.
David Ripplinger, NDSU Extension bioproducts/bioenergy economist, will lead campers on field trips in western North Dakota to learn about the state’s production of oil, natural gas, coal, renewable energy and ethanol. Campers will learn about energy science and job opportunities, interact with North Dakota energy leaders and tour energy sites.
“A youth camp focused on energy seemed like a natural match for the 4-H camp,” Ripplinger said. “The camp is located near a variety of energy facilities and there are a variety of energy science activities that engage youth.”
It won't be all work and no play for the 4-H youth. Campers also will have time for a variety of recreational activities including evening campfires, a waterslide and a dance. North Dakota 4-H Camp is on 80 acres of wooded riverfront property 1.5 miles west of Washburn.
The 4-H Energy Camp is sponsored in part by the ND Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Minnkota Power Cooperative, Great River Energy, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Cass County Electric Cooperative, Northern Plains Electric Cooperative, Verendrye Electric Cooperative, the ND Petroleum Foundation and the ND 4-H Foundation.
Click here to watch a video on 4-H Camp.
WDEA Annual Meeting in Williston
The Western Dakota Energy Association will hold its annual meeting October 13-14 at The ARC in Williston.
The in-person event will get underway at 1:00 Wednesday afternoon, and will begin with one of the event's favorite speakers. Rather than concluding the event, this year's annual meeting will begin with a presentation by Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources. Helms is scheduled to deliver his traditional county-by-county production forecast report at 1:15, following opening remarks by WDEA President Shannon Holter and Williston dignitaries.
Other elements of the agenda are still being developed, but will feature speakers who will provide updates on major energy-related happenings including the pending sale of Coal Creek Station, the development of a hydrogen industry, efforts to develop in-state TENORM disposal options, career and technical education plans, and the ongoing debate over school funding.
The meeting will feature a social, short program and entertainment Wednesday evening. The event concludes Thursday afternoon 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 to accept a position in Idaho.
- PSC approves pipeline to store synfuels plant's CO2 emissions -- Bismarck Tribune
- Stark County residents voice opposition to wind energy project -- Dickinson Press
- The demand for fracking is there – but the workforce is not -- Tioga Tribune
- Energy company looks to reduce flaring and turn it into crypto -- KFYR-TV
- McKenzie County sets state record for producing wells -- McKenzie County Farmer
- During Polar Vortex, Coal Creek generated more than entire wind fleet -- American Experiment
- Drought conditions worsen across region, crop production impacted -- Minot Daily News
- Drought prompts legislation to improve CRP flexibility for emergency haying -- Williston Herald
- Air quality in western North Dakota severely impacted by wild fires -- Dickinson Press
- North Dakota Ethics Commission OKs $10 food/drink exception to gift rules -- Bismarck Tribune
- Proposed measure would tighten rules for ND constitutional changes -- Minot Daily News
- Todd Steinwand appointed president of Bank of North Dakota -- Jamestown Sun
- New North Dakota laws, including 'stand-your-ground' rule, go into effect Aug. 1 -- Dickinson Press
- New ND water agency taking shape as Burgum appoints director -- Dickinson Press
- CDC's new mask guidance and what it means for Williams County -- Williston Herald
- Public meetings set for Minot, Velva on Highway 52 improvements -- Minot Daily News
- North Dakota won't mandate masks in school this fall -- Fargo Forum
- Active COVID-19 cases up steeply this week in North Dakota -- Bismarck Tribune
- Dickinson State shatters decade long summer enrollment record -- Dickinson Press
- North Dakota grant invests in quality pre-K education -- Grand Forks Herald
- Legislature considering changes to compulsory school attendance models -- KFYR-TV
- Ledecky gives shout-out to Williston Grandpa after winning Olympic gold -- The Tablet
- In the land of the Enchanted Highway: In search of art where buffalo roam -- Newcity
- Senators highlight top environmental standards of US oil industry -- Energy in Depth
- Senator Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas moratorium -- The Hill
- Deb Haaland's oil and gas stall, Interior secretary ignores court order -- Wall Street Journal
- Hess expects U.S. output to take over 4 years to return to pre-COVID levels -- Reuters
- U.S. renewable diesel capacity could increase due to developing projects -- EIA
- Biden Is working to destroy one of the major industries in the U.S. -- IER
- Why is the Biden administration attacking America's energy independence? -- Real Clear Energy
- Democrats hope to pass clean energy standard to force utilities to go green -- CBS News
- SEC weighs making companies liable for climate disclosures -- Wall Street Journal
- Study: U.S. economic recovery hinges on oil and gas industry -- Washington Informer
Factoid of the Week
Source: Investing Answers
EERC - Grand Forks
The ARC - Williston
July 30, 2021
WTI Crude: $73.95
Brent Crude: $76.33
Natural Gas: $3.91
North Dakota Active Oil Rigs: 23 (Unchanged) 7/30/2020 -- 12 rigs