View from the newest Wise Roads weather station on a Hess well pad in Mountrail County. The Phase 4 station has AC power, a heated rain gauge and a high resolution digital camera.
2021 Legislation Opens New Possibilities
Funding Will Help Preserve Baseload Plants
State policy makers believe new laws and programs enacted by the 2021 ND Legislature will lead to expansion of the state's energy sector and create opportunities to establish new energy-related enterprises.
Watford City Senator Dale Patten, who moderated a panel discussion at this week's annual meeting of the ND Petroleum Council, described several significant pieces of legislation that will result in additional energy investment in North Dakota. Patten noted HB 1452, which established the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority (CSEA), a new entity that has $25 million in grant funds at its disposal, along with up to $250 million for loans to help reduce emissions and commercialize new technology. He also cited HB 1425, which directs the use of Legacy Fund principal to provide in-state equity investments and venture capital, as well as HB 1380, which directs investment of future Legacy Fund earnings.
"We believe that the rules that North Dakota is facing in transitioning to a lower carbon footprint are much more achievable, much more easy to overcome than many of these other industries are facing," Patten said. "Our commitment to you is that we're going to give you the levers and the tools that you need, and to allow you to benefit from the opportunities that are out there."
Lt. Governor Brent Sanford, who chairs the State Investment Board, said he expects the first grants and loans from the CSEA will be awarded before the end of the year. Sanford also noted that HB 1425 has also been put into action with establishment of the ND Private Equity Fund.
"There's $250 million available there for companies that are ramping up," Sanford said. "If you're at a point where you're bringing in private equity because you've outgrown your own equity, your own banking relationship and see private equity before you might be hitting that public equity phase, we've got a product for that -- $250 million worth; we've already invested in a few companies that are ramping up."
Sanford said he expects the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority may be a vehicle to preserve the state's baseload coal generation, which he described as "absolutely critical to the power grids."
"That coal-based power is important, and the utilities are looking at doing carbon (dioxide) capture as their way in the future, and the way to get beyond ESG lending concerns and scrutiny from national media, scrutiny from national politics, and they're looking at making billion dollar investments," Sanford said. "So they're very hopeful that the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority is a way for them to have some low interest loans and some grant programs to continue forward with those endeavors."
John Harju, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at EERC, said he recalls meetings with the oil industry as far back as 2003, sharing with them that capturing CO2 emissions represented "a huge opportunity" for the oil industry.
"Carbon dioxide we know when we compress it and inject it into petroleum reservoirs, it mobilizes oil we could not otherwise produce," Harju said. "The world's worried about carbon dioxide getting into the atmosphere so to me that's like, 'okay this is just an economically-challenged resource.'"
Harju said the United States has had a lot of bad energy policy until about 10 years ago because people believed petroleum was in decline, but eventually the realization occurred that there were abundant reserves of oil in the United States, and that carbon dioxide would be essential to its recovery.
"I think we're getting 5, 6, 7 percent of the oil out of that resource today, whatever it is but very, very modest recoveries," Harju said. "Carbon dioxide is their answer. As a state we emit about 30 million tons of CO2 from stationary sources per year. My own suggestion is we need about 250 to 300 million tons a year to really proliferate full-on enhanced oil recovery in the Bakken."
Todd Steinwand, president of the Bank of North Dakota, was also part of the panel discussion. Steinwand described numerous business loan programs administered by the bank that could benefit the oil industry.
US Energy Supply Key to Country Success
Former US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says the biggest threat facing the United States is not Russia or China, he believes the biggest threat is the division within.
In a speech to attendees of the annual meeting of the ND Petroleum Council, the former Montana congressman said he sees a lot of anger and division in the country, and it's a problem Americans must overcome.
"Either we figure out how to work as Americans to address the challenges, or I think our country is going to fail," Zinke said.
Zinke described the US withdrawal from Afghanistan to make his point about the division within the United States.
"In Afghanistan, for the first time in my life, we abandoned US citizens," he said. "We not only abandoned US citizens, we welded the gates shut in Kabul, and knowingly and willingly left US citizens outside at the benevolence of the Taliban."
Zinke said the US also abandoned its allies, and gave the Taliban addresses and IDs of Afghans who worked with the US as interpreters. But despite the egregious pullout, Zinke said polls show 30 percent of Americans agree with Joe Biden's policy on Afghanistan.
"I don't know who those people are, but they're Americans and either their head's in the sand, they don't care, maybe it's hate, maybe they hate this country," he said. "But that's 30% of Americans and that expresses that division within our country."
Zinke said some of his friends believe the country is already gone, that the problem can't be fixed. But he cited the energy industry as an example of American innovation that shows how quickly it can be fixed.
"When I came in as Secretary of Interior, we were 8.3 million barrels a day as a nation in oil and gas and declining," Zinke said. "Everyone said we can't be energy independent. I came and talked to President Trump, and said 'Mr. President, I think we can be dominant.'"
Zinke said two years later, the US was the world's largest exporter of energy and producing 12.5 million barrels per day. He noted it is better to produce energy in the Unites States where it is done in a way that protects the environment. Zinke said it's also important for manufacturing, which depends on reliable, affordable energy to get an edge on foreign competitors.
"Where we're not competitive is labor costs, but there are less than 20 hours of labor on a Honda Civic, so labor costs don't matter a lot," Zinke said. "It's energy that makes a big difference. Today, environmentally, economically and morally, it is the right thing to produce energy in this country."
Berg Invites Residents to Stand for Freedom
Television talk show personality Chris Berg wants North Dakota to consider branding itself "the freest state in the nation" to attract visitors and the workforce that are essential to its economic success.
In an interactive session with attendees at this week's annual meeting of the ND Petroleum Council, Berg asked the audience to suggest ways the state can promote freedom and become the most business-friendly state in the country.
"What's your point of view on North Dakota being the freest state in the nation?" Berg asked. "And if it was to be the freest state in the nation, what do we need to do to make that a reality?"
"I think freedom is about our kids and the opportunities for our kids," said NDPC President Ron Ness, noting the wise use of Legacy Fund revenue to support the state's economy. "I think there's something to the whole concept of what do we do here to make people want to live and work here."
"I think the biggest thing is, we're in a state where it's politically correct to be conservative, and it's politically correct to have family values and to believe in our children and our future," said Stanley resident Gordon Bye. "I think if we get vocal about that and we can actually dare admit that we don't have to be PC and we can actually fight for our kids at the school board meetings or council meetings, that's a starting point."
Removing barriers to entry into business is an area North Dakota needs work on, according to Steve Stenehjem, president and CEO of First International Bank and Trust. Stenehjem, who also owns Stonehome Brewery which are attached to FIBT banks in several communities, pointed out that state laws make it impossible for breweries to make money.
"It's easier to sell beer in North Dakota if you're Budweiser or Miller or Coors, than it is for Stonehome Brewing Company," Stenehjem said. "If I want to sell my beer (in other establishments), I have to have a beer distributor come and pick up my beer, bring it so it touches the floor of their distribution warehouse in Williston, before I can get it back to other restaurants in Watford City."
Stenehjem also cited the cost of building permits in Watford City, which he said were three times those of Bismarck or Fargo. He suggested the best way to attract families to the state would be ending the corporate and personal income taxes, and concluded his remarks by urging the investment of more Legacy Fund dollars in North Dakota.
Another speaker in the crowd said he has friends who distrust capitalism, who have a disbelief in freedom, who think it's a manufactured idea and that the system is stacked against people to prevent them from making their own choices.
"Socialism doesn't work, even though it sounds great, it doesn't work," the speaker said. "Capitalism, always works because we're free, because we have choice, because there is that separation."
Berg thanked people in the crowd for their feedback, urged them to get involved in policy decisions that affect their lives, to use facts and logic, and to do it in a polite and respectful manner.
"The anger is not effective," Berg said. "And what's most important, like I said, facts tell stories."
Argues More Enviro Review Not Necessary
Operators of the Dakota Access Pipeline asked the U.S. Supreme Court this week to reconsider whether the 750,000 barrel per day pipeline requires additional environmental review.
Last year, DC District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled that an environmental assessment of the pipeline was inadequate, effectively nullifying an easement for DAPL to cross the Missouri River granted by the Corps of Engineers. The judge said the Corps must instead complete a full environmental impact statement on the project. In his 42-page decision Boasberg said, “Unrebutted expert critiques regarding leak-detection systems, operator safety records, adverse conditions, and worst-case discharge mean that the easement approval remains ‘highly controversial’ under NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act).
Energy Transfer Partners argued in its petition to the court that additional environmental review is unnecessary and that it could establish a precedent that will impose burdens for other large infrastructure projects.
“This case carries enormous ramifications for the oil industry, its workers, and the nation,” the company wrote in the petition.
The company asked the justices to decide whether NEPA requires an agency to resolve all criticism of its analysis before concluding a project does not need a more thorough environmental review.
"That standard shifts power from agencies to the courts, contradicting three decades of this Court’s NEPA jurisprudence," Energy Transfer wrote in the petition.
The 1,176-mile pipeline has been operating safely since June 2017, initially transporting up to 570,000 barrels of North Dakota crude per day to a terminal in Illinois. Dakota Access completed the first phase of a project earlier this year that expanded the line's capacity to 750,000 bbl/day.
Click here to read an E&E News article about the arguments before the Supreme Court.
Recognized for Outstanding Public Service
Rep. Craig Headland, who chairs the ND House Tax Committee, was recognized this week by the ND Petroleum Council with its Outstanding Public Service Award.
Headland, who farms near Montpelier, also serves on the legislature's Agriculture Committee, and is a member of the legislative redistricting committee during this interim.
The NDPC award is presented annually to recognize state and industry leaders who have gone above and beyond to improve the oil and gas industry. Headland is known for his strong advocacy of private property rights, and is a previous winner of ND Landowner Association's Legislator of the Year Award. He was also recognized by the American Legislative Exchange Council in 2019 with its national State Legislator of the Month Award.
Headland has led the fight to lower personal and corporate income taxes in North Dakota. He's also been an advocate for only necessary state agency regulations to promote a positive business environment and personal freedom for North Dakota’s residents. Before becoming the Chairman of the House Finance and Taxation Committee, Headland served several sessions as vice chair and became the "go-to guy" for all things tax in the ND House. He's been at the forefront of ensuring the oil and gas industry has a fair and competitive tax rate, and supported a key tax incentive that helped kickstart the Bakken in 2009.
Three significant industry-related bills landed in Rep. Headland’s Tax Committee during the 2021 session. The committee studied and fine-tuned all three bills and ultimately passed them into law and they were signed by the governor. The bills included reform of state mineral royalty obligations, a remote gas capture tax incentive, and the MHA straddle well tax bill (SB 2319). Chairman Headland was instrumental in achieving a compromise on the straddle well bill, ensuring tax and regulatory certainty to continue investing and developing the Bakken resource on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.
Companies Recognized for Excellence
Governor Doug Burgum kicked off this year's ND Petroleum Council awards ceremony, honoring oil and gas companies who have gone above and beyond in the areas of safety, community engagement and environmental stewardship.
ONEOK received the Excellence in Safety Award for its behavioral-based safety program. The program has helped transform the organization’s safety and health culture by providing employees a platform to present at-risk conditions and issues to front-line supervision and management for review and subsequent action.
Continental Resources received the Excellence in Community Engagement Award for its Funding the Future grant program. Since 2013, Continental has awarded grants to fund science, technology, engineering, mathematics and reading initiatives in K-12 schools in North Dakota and other states where the company operates. Last year, $15,000 in Funding the Future grants were awarded to six North Dakota schools, including Williston High School, Dickinson Public Schools, McKenzie County Public Schools, Alexander Public Schools, Divide County High School and Stanley Community Schools.
Crusoe Energy Systems was awarded the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship award for its Digital Flare Mitigation technology. Crusoe’s objective with flare mitigation was to help operators solve the regulatory and environmental challenges of stranded gas. Crusoe converts “stranded” natural gas into electricity for energy-intensive computing at the well site. Digital Flare Mitigation® (“DFM”) solves regulatory and environmental challenges for oil and gas companies by achieving beneficial use, reducing flaring and lowering emissions.
The Distinguished Industry Leadership Award was given to Brian Grote and Brian Rosendahl of Balon Valves, and Larry Dokken was inducted into the NDPC Hall of Fame.
Led Morton Co. Through DAPL Protests
Cody Schulz, current director of state Homeland Security, has been named director of the ND Department of Parks and Recreation.
Gov. Doug Burgum made the appointment this week, citing Schulz' extensive record of public service and strong leadership at the state and county levels, including through some of the most challenging periods in recent state history. Schulz has been with the Department of Emergency Services since 2007 and has served as director of Homeland Security since 2018.
Schulz also served on the Morton County Commission from 2012 to 2020, including as chairman in 2016, 2017 and 2020, helping to guide the county through the historic Dakota Access Pipeline protests and COVID-19 pandemic. As a county commissioner and member of the Morton County Park Board for eight years, Schulz also oversaw major infrastructure upgrades and expansion of park services and amenities.
“Cody brings demonstrated leadership skills and a strong passion for providing a high quality of life for North Dakota citizens to the role of North Dakota Parks and Recreation director,” Burgum said.
A native of New Salem, Schulz earned an associate’s degree from Bismarck State College, a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Dickinson State University and an MBA from the University of North Dakota. Schulz’s appointment as Parks and Recreation director is effective October 11.
Poster Touts Transportation Improvement
The Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute has produced a poster that describes the benefits of WDEA's Wise Roads project and the importance of reliable weather information to the development of the state's Transportation Management System.
The poster points out how Wise Roads (Weather Information System to Effectively Reduce Oilfield Delays and Disruptions) helps county highway managers determine when weather conditions require restriction of truck movement on gravel roads, and equally important, to excludes roads that are not affected by wet weather conditions.
UGPTI, along with the ND Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) have incorporated Wise Roads as a key part of the Toward 365 Project. The tagline was coined by LTAP to capture the essence of then McKenzie County Commission Chairman Tom McCabe’s goal to keep roads open 365 days per year. McCabe's remarks, which occurred during the 2018 Western Energy roundtable co-hosted by LTAP and WDEA in Watford City, led to the launch of the Wise Roads project the following summer.
Implementation of Wise Roads is a key tool in helping to reduce the number of miles and length of time that roads are restricted due to adverse weather conditions. Road closures negatively impact oil, manufacturing, agriculture, trucking and travel. Other research aspects of Wise Roads will result in better gravel roads, and even better weather information and the tools to produce a healthier business climate in North Dakota.
Click here to view or download the poster.
DOT Hearing Sept. 27 on Plan for Pacific Ave.
A public input meeting will be held next week to discuss proposed improvements to Pacific Avenue in Medora.
The ND Department of Transportation will host the hearing Monday, Sept. 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. MST., at the Medora Community Center.
Planned improvements consist of an asphalt mill and overlay of Pacific Avenue from the Andrews Creek Bridge to the Exit 27 overpass structure, installation of new ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps in Medora, and removal of an existing culvert located under Pacific Avenue east of Medora near Exit 27.
The meeting will provide the opportunity for public input. Representatives from the NDDOT will be on hand to answer questions and discuss concerns. The meeting will utilize an open house format. There will be no formal presentation.
If unable to attend the public input meeting, written statements or comments must be mailed by October 12 to James Rath, 608 E Boulevard Ave., Bismarck, ND, 58505-0700 or firstname.lastname@example.org with “Public Input Meeting - Medora” in the e-mail subject heading.
Event to Examine Road Needs, Local Impact
The Greater North Dakota Chamber will host a Transportation Forum next week to discuss the need for safe and reliable transportation networks, and the role they play in shaping the state's economy.
The forum will be held September 29 at the Ramkota Hotel and Convention Center in Bismarck. The day-long event will take a look at how transportation and associated policies play a role in all industries and the state's economics. National and regional experts will provide updates on trends and data impacting their organization, industry and the state.
The event kicks off with a keynote speech by Ed Mortimer, Vice President of Transportation Infrastructure for the US Chamber of Commerce. His remarks will be followed by presentations from the ND Association of Counties and the ND League of Cities regarding local infrastructure, and the need for adequate funding to build and maintain it.
Attendees will also hear from Denver Tolliver, director of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, who will describe North Dakota's need for $24.6 billion over the next 20 years to maintain current roads and bridges. Also on the agenda are remarks from Kenneth Simonson, Chief Economist with the Associated General Contractors of America, who will describe North Dakota's current transportation funding stream and the importance of additional investments in construction.
The forum will conclude with another keynote speech from Bill Panos, director of the ND Department of Transportation, who will provide a look at the current state of North Dakota's transportation system and the NDDOT's vision for the future.
Click here for additional information or to register. There is a $60 fee for GNDC members and a $90 fee for non-members.
Early Bird Registration Expires Oct. 1
Anyone interested in learning the latest developments on the energy front in North Dakota should register now to attend the Western Dakota Energy Association's annual meeting to be held October 13-14 at The ARC in Williston.
Registration for the two-day event is just $95.00, which includes an evening social, breakfast and lunch, and snacks during morning and afternoon breaks. Click here to register. The early registration rate will expire October 1.
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 a keynote address from Lt. Governor Brent Sanford during the noon luncheon. The day kicks off with a welcome message from Williston Mayor Howard Klug. The morning agenda includes presentations about a new national shale energy organization, coming changes in evolving electric markets, opportunities created by energy legislation passed in 2021, 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, a report on the pending sale of Coal Creek Station, 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.
Meeting to be held Next Week in Bismarck
The Lignite Energy Council has announced the agenda for its fall conference, which features speakers and sessions focused on providing industry updates and information to its members.
Keynote speaker for the gathering will be noted author and energy expert Robert Bryce. Over the past three decades, his articles have appeared in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, National Review, Field & Stream and the Austin Chronicle.
The conference will include an awards luncheon, CoalPAC breakfast, exhibitor booths for Lignite Energy Council member companies, and ample time to network with industry leaders.
It will be held next week, September 29-30 at the Bismarck Event Center. The line-up of speakers will discuss topics that include:
- Environmental, Social & Corporate Governance
- The Regional Electric Grid and Reaching Carbon Neutral
- Importance of baseload power and teamwork
- Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage
- North Dakota Legislative Look-back and Clean Sustainable Energy Fund
- Mine & Plant Updates
- Burgum: Net neutral goal set off $25 billion 'cascade' of interest -- Williston Herald
- Line 3 pipeline protests continue; activists want Biden to shut it down -- ABC News
- Antelope Valley Station fire had little effect on power output -- Bismarck Tribune
- Guilty plea to criminal charges for largest oilfield spill in ND history -- Fargo Forum
- Port: Are you ready for a winter of skyrocketing energy prices? -- Fargo Forum
- MHA Chairman explains the importance of royalty changes for drilling -- KX News
- Opinion: Oil and gas taxes pay for a lot of social benefits in Canada -- Financial Post
- Committee okays draft North Dakota legislative redistricting map -- Bismarck Tribune
- Hess plant annexation discussed without city’s knowledge -- Tioga Tribune
- ND State Board of Ag Research and Education seeks input on needs -- Farm Forum
- National Park Service awards grants to North Dakota projects -- Bismarck Tribune
- Association wants input into proposed Scandinavian Heritage Center renovation -- Minot Daily News
- School officials, legislators discuss ways to get more computer science in classroom -- KFYR-TV
- School sees more satisfaction from newer COVID-19 policies -- Crosby Journal
- County healthcare system begins accepting COVID-19 patients -- McKenzie County Farmer
- KIDS COUNT report outlines how state can build better child care system -- Dickinson Press
- World's largest oil trader sees oil topping $80/barrel by year-end -- OilPrice.com
- Europe’s climate lesson for America; Wind power is failing, prices soaring -- Wall Street Journal
- Regulators offer ideas for Texas grid overhaul in wake of winter storm -- Dallas Morning News
- ExxonMobil plans to offer “differentiated” natural gas, methane capture certified -- ExxonMobil
- An anti-green, anti-environmentalist backlash could reshape British politics -- The Economist
- EIA expects increasing consumption of natural gas by U.S. industry in 2021 and 2022 -- EIA
Factoid of the Week
Bismarck Event Center
Bismarck Event Center
The ARC - Williston
Bismarck Event Center
Ramkota Hotel - Bismarck
September 24, 2021
WTI Crude: $73.98
Brent Crude: $78.09
Natural Gas: $5.14
North Dakota Active Oil Rigs: 27 (Unchanged) 9/24/2020 -- 10 rigs