Ben receives a Thanksgiving pardon from Governor Doug Burgum, part of a ceremony in which Burgum and Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring thanked the ND Turkey Federation for its donations to Heaven's Helpers Soup Cafe and the Abused Adult Resource Center.
Oil Prices to Remain Strong through Winter
North Dakota crude oil production in the month of September remained relatively flat, climbing by an average of 6,000 barrels per day, which amounts to a 0.5 percent increase over August numbers.
Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, said the slight increase puts North Dakota "back in a horserace" with the state of New Mexico, which saw a slight decline in production. The two states are neck-and-neck in a contest as the No. 2 producing state in the nation behind Texas. Average daily production in September was 1.113 million bbl/day, while New Mexico's production stands at about 1.2 million bbl/day.
Helms said the production number is slightly ahead of the state legislature's forecast, while oil prices are much higher than forecast, which is good news for the state budget.
Click here to listen to Helms' comments.
Contrary to the supply situation before the pandemic, Helms said U.S. crude oil inventories are low, which he said means prices will likely remain at current levels or higher through the winter months.
Click here to listen to Helms' comments.
Natural gas production increased about two percent in the month of September, averaging just over 3 billion cubic feet per day. Helms said producers were able to capture 94 percent of the gas that was produced.
White House Blames Industry for High Prices
North Dakota political and business leaders are strongly criticizing a letter from the Biden administration to the Federal Trade Commission that accuses oil companies of "illegal conduct" that has caused higher gasoline prices.
Senator Kevin Cramer called Biden's letter a "deflection" that attempts to draw attention away from the administration's policies that have undermined domestic oil production.
Click here to listen to Cramer's comments.
Cramer, who was part of a panel discussion hosted by the Grow America’s Infrastructure Now (GAIN) Coalition, said he's heard reports that Biden and Congressional Democrats are considering reinstating the oil export ban which was lifted in 2015. He said it would be a foolish move because lifting the ban has been a huge benefit to American producers. Cramer said he suspects the anti-oil industry policies may be a backdoor attempt to promote "green" energy development.
Click here to listen to Cramer's comments.
ND Petroleum Council President Ron Ness, who also took part in GAIN's panel discussion, agreed with Cramer's assessment that Biden is attempting to avoid blame for rising energy prices. Ness said Americans understand the administration's actions are the cause.
Click here to listen to Ness' comments.
Senator John Hoeven also criticized Biden's actions. At a Washington news conference, he said the anti-industry policies of the Biden administration defy common sense.
Click here to listen to Hoeven's comments.
Hoeven added that Biden and Democrats in Congress are working on "a big tax and spend plan" that will only add to inflation.
Power Must Be Available When Needed Most
The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) published a report this week focused on redefining markets to meet changing needs posed by the evolving mix of electric generation resources.
MISO officials say the Markets of the Future: A Reliability Imperative Report is intended to outline a pathway for the existing market structure to accommodate the changing generation mix, while ensuring reliability of the grid. MISO market forecasts predict most coal plants will be shut down in the next 10-to-20 years, and will be replaced by more wind and solar generation, backed up by additional natural gas generation.
“Now is the time to anticipate the shifting needs of our region and accelerate our work to begin implementing practical solutions,” said Richard Doying, MISO’s VP for Market and Grid Strategy. “Market redefinition is a critical element of our response to the Reliability Imperative. We must ensure the markets properly incentivize resources, so they are available when needed most.”
The report presents a reliability needs timeline that aims to answer the question: “What will be needed and by when?” The needs are presented in four broad categories: 1) Uncertainty and Variability; 2) Resource Models and Capabilities; 3) Location; and 4) Coordination.
“MISO is committed to understanding the challenges of the transforming energy system and ensuring continued electric system reliability,” Doying said. “Ongoing stakeholder engagement is vital to the success of this endeavor.”
The report also outlines a path forward for market enhancements that anticipate and meet the changing needs. Key elements of the report examine the following areas:
• Drivers of change in the electricity sector require significant and urgent enhancements to MISO’s markets to meet new and shifting needs, and to ensure on-going reliability and value creation for the region.
• MISO’s Redefining Markets portfolio aims to advance resource adequacy reforms, integrate and optimize new and existing resources, implement new market products, and optimize load.
• With a collaborative effort to quickly advance necessary enhancements, the market components in place today – resource adequacy, energy, and ancillary reserves markets – will continue to be effective in the future.
Click here to read or download the Reliability Report.
Demicks Lake III to Process 200 MMcf/Day
ONEOK, Inc. announced plans this week to complete the Demicks Lake III gas processing facility in McKenzie County.
Demicks Lake III will be capable of processing 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, a vital piece of infrastructure in light of the state's growing natural gas production. Demicks Lake III will bring ONEOK’s natural gas processing capacity in the Williston Basin to a combined 1.9 billion cubic feet per day.
The company also announced plans to complete MB-5, a 125,000-barrel per day NGL fractionator in Mont Belvieu, Texas.
"Increasing producer activity and improving demand for natural gas and NGLs drove the decision to restart these attractive return projects," said ONEOK President and CEO Pierce H. Norton II. "Demicks Lake III will support producer development plans in the core of the Williston Basin while continuing our commitment to help customers reduce natural gas flaring."
The 200-MMcf/d Demicks Lake III natural gas processing plant is expected to cost approximately $140 million to complete. The facility, which is supported by acreage dedications with primarily fee-based contracts, is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023.
Three Projects Would Diversify Lignite Industry
The Lignite Research Council voted this week to recommend grant funding for three projects aimed at extracting minerals and developing new products from the state's lignite reserves.
The LRC recommended a $550,000 grant to AmeriCarbon Products, LLC, which is working on a patented/proprietary process to demonstrate the conversion of North Dakota lignite coal into a valuable pitch intermediate chemical used in carbon products manufacturing. A secondary objective of the project will outline a development pathway based on performance and techno-economic results for a next-stage commercial pitch plant based in North Dakota to enhance lignite production, and provide high-wage jobs and increased economic opportunities with pitch and downstream carbon manufacturing.
Members of the research council also recommended approval of two separate grant awards to Microbeam Technologies Inc. One of the MTI projects is aimed at using lignite to produce building materials. Initial testing by MTI and the University of North Dakota have produced a sintered lignite material that can be used for various applications such as insulation, joists/studs, tiles, and architectural block. The LRC recommended approval of a $62,500 grant for the project.
MTI's other project is aimed at developing a process to extract, separate, recover and purify germanium and gallium from lignite coal-derived rare earth element concentrates. The process will be integrated into the University of North Dakota’s rare earth extraction process and is designed to co-produce germanium and gallium concentrates. LRC gave its endorsement to a $20,000 grant for the project, much of which is funded by the US Department of Energy.
The council's recommendations now go to the ND Industrial Commission, which will consider the applications at its November 29 meeting.
Site in Mountrail County to Aid Research
What could anyone learn by digging an eight-foot deep hole into the side of a perfectly-good gravel road? That's what the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute intends to find out.
UGPTI, a partner in WDEA's Wise Roads project, has completed installation of soil temperature and moisture probes in a fourth gravel road, this one in Mountrail County. With assistance from county road crews, probes were installed at four different depths in the road bed, ranging from eight inches down to six feet, adjacent to the Rat Lake weather station.
Data provided by the moisture and temperature probes could lead to improvements in frost law policies. Every spring counties impose seasonal weight restrictions on gravel roads which soften up as the soil warms and frost comes out of the ground. The frost law restrictions are frustrating to oil industry trucking interests, which generally have to restrict loads to no more than six tons per axle. But information gleaned from research may help counties better determine when its safe to allow heavier loads to move on gravel roads.
The four probes were installed on 96th Ave NW, about 12 miles southwest of Stanley. They were placed at depths of eight, 24, 48 and 72 inches. The probes were installed between the outside wheel track and the center wheel track.
Temperature data will be used to measure frost depth and determine frost load restrictions. Moisture data will be used to measure water infiltration in the road during and after rainfall. This data, combined with rain intensity and totals from the adjacent weather station, will help better determine when load restrictions are necessary after rain events.
The Mountrail County Roads Department provided a backhoe and operators to dig the trench from the station into the road. This is the fourth and final Wise Roads road probe installation. The other sites are the Epping Station in Williams County, about two miles southeast of Epping, Medicine Hole located northwest of Killdeer in Dunn County, and the Banks station in McKenzie County.
Williams County Commits $5 Million
Williston School District 7 plans to submit an application for a $10 million matching grant from a program established by the 2021 ND Legislature to support development of "career academies."
The district's project would fund local career and technical education (CTE) programs and construct a facility to accommodate 400-to-500 students. The Williams County Commission this week unanimously approved a $5 million pledge to fund the effort which has regional support.
“The North Dakota Department of Commerce speaks a lot to the fact that they’ve got well over $25 billion in new projects coming to the state of North Dakota right now and one of our biggest challenges is workforce,” said Commission Chairman Steve Kemp. “And so this is a great project to start helping to address this so our students as they come out of high school are ready to jump into their work field.”
The school district has also received letters of support from CHI St. Alexius, Grayson Mill and Knife River Corporation.
"One of the exciting parts about this CTE project is that it’s not just for Williston Basin School District, but it is for the Williams, McKenzie and Divide County areas," said Audrey Larson, vice-principal at Williston High School.
Contained within HB 1015, the budget bill of the Office of Management and Budget, was a $70 million appropriation of ARPA funding to capital projects which support CTE programs with one-time matching grants ranging from $500,000 to up to $10 million. Funding will help build programs to prepare North Dakota students and workers to meet high demand workforce needs.
The first round of grant applications was vetted in October to allocate the first $35 million, with the second round of applications due by December 1st. Click here to read more about the application requirements.
The Williston project will be a part of a collaborative effort to create an expanded network of CTE programs to work with satellite locations throughout western North Dakota. Another such location is the Bakken Area Skills Center being proposed by the McKenzie County School District, which is also hoping to receive a matching grant through the state CTE program. Click here to read more about the Bakken Area Skills Center in the October 1st edition of the WDEA newsletter.
Click here to read a Williston Herald article about the effort.
Previous Lobbying Work with ND Chamber
The Executive Board of the North Dakota League of Cities has selected Matthew Gardner as the next executive director effective January 1, 2022, following the retirement of Blake Crosby.
Gardner has been the government relations director for the Greater North Dakota Chamber since 2018 where he has served as the primary lobbyist and oversaw policy development and outreach. Prior to working at GNDC, he served as the chief of grants, trails and planning for ND Parks and Recreation where he worked on the department’s legislative efforts and with public and private sector partners across the state. He has also been a small business owner.
“The league’s board conducted a national search for the executive director position and Matt’s experience placed him at the top of the list of candidates,” said NDLC President Tina Fisk. “His experience with policy development, advocacy and developing partnerships put him in a unique position to lead the league. The executive board and staff are excited to work with Matt and confident the league will be well positioned under his guidance to thrive in the years to come.”
NDLC provides service, advocacy, leadership, education and support to the state’s 357 cities. As Executive Director, Gardner will lead the league in its efforts by serving as the primary lobbyist and advocate for city interests and identifying education and services that support North Dakota cities.
Congressional Reps Says Regs are Disastrous
The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of the Army announced a proposed rule this week to re-establish an Obama-era definition of "waters of the US" (WOTUS) that would give the federal government far-reaching powers over all manner of lakes, rivers, streams and ponds throughout the country.
The move would repeal the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) implemented by the Trump administration. Members of North Dakota's Congressional delegation say it's a very bad idea.
"The Obama-era WOTUS rule would have been a disaster for North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers," said Congressman Kelly Armstrong. "Now, the Biden administration is trying to revive this failed, one-size-fits-all policy that will destroy their livelihoods and decimate our rural communities."
Trump's 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule restored regulatory power to states instead of the federal government, allowing the states to apply water-related rules in a way that made sense for the industries operating there.
Senator John Hoeven has been an outspoken critic of Obama's WOTUS rule. Hoeven and Senator Kevin Cramer joined 24 Senate colleagues introducing a resolution in January opposing the removal of the NWPR rule.
"The EPA’s proposal undermines the certainty we worked to provide with the NWPR and is part of Joe Biden’s efforts to impose burdensome and costly mandates under a new WOTUS definition," Hoeven said. "The Obama-era WOTUS rule was wrong for our nation, and our farmers, ranchers, and energy producers, to name a few of the impacted industries. We cannot afford a similar overreach from the Biden administration.”
When the EPA announced in June it would repeal the NWPR, Senator Cramer introduced legislation to codify the Trump Administration's WOTUS rule.
"It’s a shame the Trump Administration’s rule was repealed at all. Americans deserve better than regulatory ping pong,” Cramer said. “I look forward to hosting EPA and the Corps of Engineers next week in Bismarck to give North Dakotans the opportunity to put our priorities in front of the Biden Administration as the process moves forward."
Senator Cramer will be hosting EPA Office of Water Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox and Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jaime Pinkham in North Dakota to talk with stakeholders who deal with WOTUS.
Numbers are Getting Closer to Normal
North Dakota’s eight commercial service airports posted almost 87,000 airline passenger boardings during the month of October, continuing a positive trend in the post-pandemic recovery.
The demand for air travel in North Dakota has seen a steady rebound throughout 2021 and has stabilized to approximately 15% below pre-pandemic numbers, according to Kyle Wanner, Executive Director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.
“North Dakota’s airports and aviation industry have done an incredible job over the last year in working towards a full recovery while maintaining strong air service options for our communities,” Wanner said. “As holiday travel picks up and winter weather begins to arrive in North Dakota, air travel options for the traveling public are incredibly important as it allows for safe, long-range travel to occur while helping to minimize the time spent on roadways.”
While passenger numbers are still well below those at the height of oil boom between 2010 and 2015, they have improved considerably since the onset of the pandemic. About 11,950 passengers boarded flights in Minot last month, compared to 14,589 in October 2019. Williston saw similar results, with 5,780 passengers in October, compared to 7,408 two years ago. Dickinson's numbers were closest to pre-pandemic totals, with 2,052 passengers in October, only 55 fewer than flew out of Dickinson in October 2019.
Click here to see a table of historic boarding figures for North Dakota commercial airports.
Vehicle Crashes Claimed 100 Lives in 2020
Families and friends of those who lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes gathered with state and local officials to commemorate World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims at the Capitol today.
The World Day of Remembrance is an international event that honors the millions of people killed and millions more injured on the world’s roads each year and calls for change to prevent such tragedies. This is the first year World Day of Remembrance was observed in person in North Dakota.
“Those in attendance today know the devastating impact of lives lost or changed forever by vehicle crashes," said Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford. "When it comes to the lives of our friends and family, the only acceptable number of serious injuries and fatalities on North Dakota roads is zero.”
Today’s event included a temporary memorial created by families of crash victims by showcasing shoes to represent those who were lost. A moment of silence was observed for 94 seconds to represent the 94 lives lost on North Dakota roads so far in 2021.
Despite the pandemic, 100 individuals lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in 2020, the same as 2019.
“Traffic fatalities and injuries on North Dakota roads are largely preventable when everyone takes personal responsibility when traveling,” said NDDOT Director Bill Panos. “Today we remember those we have lost, but also enhance the voices of those who have been most impacted by traffic crashes – the families and the survivors – as we all advocate for behaviors that will lead to the goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries on our roads.”
North Dakotans can honor loved ones on the award-winning, virtual Crash Memorial Wall, which was built on the hope of preventing another death on North Dakota roads. Click here to learn more about the Vision Zero strategy and its traffic safety campaigns.
Cities, Counties, Schools Urged to Apply
The ND Department of Environmental Quality is accepting applications for its FY 2021 State Clean Diesel Grant Program.
Schools, cities, counties, and other government agencies that require larger, diesel-powered vehicles are encouraged to apply for the grant awards. DEQ will issue $337,000 in awards funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to purchase new or newer, diesel-powered, zero-emission, hybrid, or alternatively-fueled vehicles.
The purpose of the funding is to reduce diesel emissions in accordance with the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of the Energy Policy Act of 2010. To date, 102 older vehicles in North Dakota have been replaced using the funding, with a reduction in air emissions of about 200 tons over the lifetime of those vehicles.
Click here to see the application and program guidelines. Applications can be mailed to the Division of Air Quality, 4201 Normandy Street, Bismarck, ND 58503-1324 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The application deadline is November 30.
- High winds shut down some wind turbines across North Dakota -- KFYR-TV
- ND leaders to make plan for $150M pipeline grant fund -- Bismarck Tribune
- Williams County finalizes loan agreement with Cerilon GTL -- Williston Herald
- State’s producing oil wells reaches top 17,000 mark -- Minot Daily News
- EIA forecasts crude oil prices will decline during 2022, closer to $70/bbl -- EIA
- Burgum: Special session funding will help North Dakota realize its potential -- Dickinson Press
- REGROW, CARES Act funding will help state get to legacy brine ponds more quickly -- Williston Herald
- ND tax commissioner to resign after alcohol incident; will leave office Jan. 3 -- Bismarck Tribune
- North Dakota landowners electronically post 4 million acres in first year of program -- AgWeek
- Bill expands ND Legacy Fund board, addresses in-state investment mandates -- Bismarck Tribune
- Cost of diapers takes a toll on some North Dakota families -- KX News
- A district divided, McLean County will be part of four legislative districts -- McLean County Independent
- Shawn Travis wins special city commission election in Tioga -- Tioga Tribune
- COVID cases on the rise in Divide County, new cases every day -- Crosby Journal
- New playground equipment installed at Writing Rock Park -- Crosby Journal
- Williams County Parks present master plan schematics -- KFYR TV
- Tioga planning and zoning board changes meeting dates, times -- Tioga Tribune
- Minot City Council supports CTE program at Dakota College in Bottineau -- Minot Daily News
- Hess offering $50,000 in scholarships, grants in North Dakota -- Williston Herald
- EDC considers encouraging apprenticeships to promote skilled trades -- Tioga Tribune
- Programs support ND students from kindergarten to grad school -- News Dakota
- Grant committee approves funding, but stops short for Minot State preschool -- Dickinson Press
- Letter: Appreciate North Dakota educators this week -- Grand Forks Herald
- TerraPower picks Kemmerer for nuclear reactor, site of former coal plant -- Casper Star-Tribune
- Biden asks FTC to examine oil, gas companies’ role in high gasoline prices -- Wall Street Journal
- Biden’s ‘old school’ politics to deflect blame: Blame Big Oil for gas price surge -- Inside Sources
- U.S. asks Japan, China and others to consider tapping their oil reserves -- Reuters
- Biden "build back better" methane fee means higher energy costs for consumers -- Inside Sources
- Biden administration pushes to reinstate illegal drilling ban on public lands -- Energy in Depth
- The Biden administration sold oil and gas leases days after the climate summit -- NPR
Factoid of the Week
Source: National Climatic Data Center
Bismarck Career Academy
Williston City Hall
Stanley South Complex
November 19, 2021
WTI Crude: $76.10
Brent Crude: $78.89
Natural Gas: $5.07
North Dakota Active Oil Rigs: 32 (Down 1) 11/19/2020 -- 12 rigs