The arrival of summer inevitably means road construction in North Dakota. Motorists should plan ahead, expect delays and always exercise patience to protect the safety of workers.
Landfill Decision Expected Tuesday
Township Votes for Denial of WISCO App
The Williams County Commission has two big decisions to make Tuesday when it meets to consider the applications of companies seeking permits to dispose of TENORM in local landfills.
Secure Energy and WISCO Inc. filed applications in May seeking a conditional use permit to dispose of TENORM (Technologically-Enhanced, Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Material). The requests were submitted shortly after expiration of a county moratorium that was intended to provide time to study the issue.
In response to the county's concerns, the Western Dakota Energy Association commissioned a study with AE2S Nexus to determine the scope of the issue and recommend possible solutions. The study identified the sources and amount of TENORM generated by the oil industry, as well as potential landfill disposal options in western North Dakota. WDEA formed a working group among the Big Four oil-producing counties to consider a region-wide approach, but ultimately determined that the disposal issue would require a private-sector solution.
The Williams County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-2 to recommend denial of Secure Energy's permit request, and will hold a special meeting Monday to consider WISCO's application. The commission delayed action on WISCO's request pending a recommendation from the Round Prairie Township board where the company's existing landfill is located. The township board held a special meeting Wednesday and recommended WISCO's application be denied, although it listed no reason on the comment form it submitted. The zoning board has scheduled a special meeting Monday morning to act on WISCO's request, so both applications will appear on the county commission's June 29 agenda.
WISCO's landfill is located on Highway 2 west of Williston near the Montana state line. Secure's existing landfill is located on 160 acres about 14 miles north of Williston.
During last week's hearing, the zoning board heard testimony from Dave Glatt, director of the Department of Environmental Quality, who discussed a TENORM study that Argonne National Laboratory had conducted for the DEQ. Glatt said the study indicated TENORM poses virtually no risk to the general public, and noted that North Dakota's limit for TENORM disposal is among the toughest standards in the country. State regulations cap radioactivity levels at 50 picocuries/gram, and limit TENORM disposal at individual landfills to 25,000 tons per year and no more than 3,000 tons in any single month.
There is growing urgency to develop an in-state solution for TENORM disposal. Most of the material is now shipped to the Oaks Landfill near Glendive, Montana, but regulations in Montana have recently changed, requiring analysis of loads before they leave their point of origin for shipment to the Oaks facility. Industry officials are concerned that disposal at the Montana site may soon be limited or cut off completely.
Biden Policies Causing Price Increase
Crude oil prices have been steadily climbing since the November election and several industry executives believe prices could be headed as high as $100/barrel.
Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm said restrictive polices imposed by the Biden administration make it possible that the price per barrel could continue to climb into triple digits. In an interview this week on Fox Business News, Hamm said actions by Biden such as shutting down the Keystone XL Pipeline and banning oil and gas leasing on federal land have caused the price increase.
Click here to listen to Hamm's comments.
Hamm said surplus crude oil inventories that developed during the pandemic are coming down as demand for oil returns. That fact, when combined with actions by Biden that further limit supply, cause Hamm to believe prices may continue to rise.
Click here to listen to Hamm's comments.
The chief executives of other large oil companies have also said that $100 oil could happen, including Exxon’s Darren Woods, TotalEnergies’ Patrick Jean Pouyanné, and Shell’s Ben van Beurden. They pointed out that global supplies could see further constraints due to lower investments in production.
Judge Says Tribe Can File New Suit Over EIS
A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the operators of the Dakota Access Pipeline, closing the books for now on the five-year-old case.
The order written by Judge James Boasberg dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning the tribe is free to pursue additional litigation in the future. Boasberg also declined to order Dakota Access LLC or the Corps of Engineers to provide independent updates or status reports, noting that the Corps indicated it would post monthly public updates of its work on the environmental impact statement that Boasberg ordered on the portion of the pipeline that crosses the Missouri River north of the Standing Rock Reservation. The Corps has indicated it expects to complete the EIS in March 2022.
Boasberg issued a stunning decision last July, ordering that DAPL be shut down and emptied, despite the fact the 1,176-mile pipeline has been operating safely for more than three years. The order effectively nullified an easement for the pipeline to cross the Missouri River granted by the Corps based on an environmental assessment. The judge issued a ruling in March that the Corps must instead complete a full EIS on the project.
The judge's decision was ultimately blocked on appeal, and when given another opportunity to consider whether to order a shutdown this spring, Boasberg declined to do so, pointing out that the Standing Rock Tribe had failed to demonstrate that DAPL's continued operation could cause "irreparable harm." (See May 21 WDEA newsletter)
DAPL currently has the capacity to move up to 570,000 barrels per day from North Dakota to an oil terminal in Illinois. Dakota Access is currently in the process of completing an "optimization project" that would nearly double that capacity.
Board Grants Smith Four More Years
State Land Commissioner Jodi Smith was appointed to another four-year term at a meeting of the Land Board in Bismarck yesterday.
Smith was praised by the board for her work in what Secretary of State Al Jaeger characterized as a "very complicated office." She has received some criticism from the oil and gas industry for her handling of unpaid royalties. Smith's interaction with the news media regarding the issue also drew criticism from the Land Board, prompting Smith to develop a media policy to be discussed at the next board meeting on July 29.
Smith was appointed to the position in November 2017 on a split 3-2 vote, replacing previous commissioner Lance Gaebe. She was previously vice president of the western region for Sanford Health Foundation, and before that served as foundation director for Trinity Health Foundation in Minot.
The Department of Trust Lands manages the permanent educational trust funds and assets under the Land Board’s control. It has also been responsible for administering grant programs aimed at addressing oil industry impacts in western North Dakota.
In her most recent report to the board, Smith provided a list of 2020 results and accomplishments including:
• Significant progress was made in the Acreage Adjustment Project with 1/3 of the leases having been reviewed.
• Implementation of Financial Management and Accounting IT system, and major update of Revenue Compliance IT system.
• Continued building of Surface Land Management IT system with a go-live date scheduled for August 2021.
• Completion of the Mineral Valuation Project.
• Oversight of 15 legal cases and eight bankruptcies affecting the Board.
Click here to read a Bismarck Tribune article on Smith's reappointment.
Six Geologic Sequestration Wells Planned
The ND Public Service Commission will conduct a public hearing July 12 on plans by Dakota Gasification Company (DGC) to construct a 6.8-mile-long carbon dioxide (CO2) pipeline from DGC’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant to six CO2 sequestration wells.
The hearing on the proposed Dakota Carbon Pipeline has been set for 8:30 a.m. July 12 at the Energy Wellness Center, 1900 Central Avenue North, in Beulah.
DGC's application indicates the pipeline will deliver CO2 to a third-party tax-equity partner with the ability to capture 45Q tax credits for CO2 sequestration, which are worth $50/ton. DGC's partner would be responsible for securing the permits for injection and geologic storage of the CO2. The project would consist of 2.9 miles of 12-inch pipeline, and several segments totaling 3.9 miles of six-inch pipeline.
The proposed pipeline would be buried at a minimum depth of four feet within a 50-foot right-of-way, and would include other facilities such as pig launching and receiving stations, cathodic protection and communication systems, and buildings and fencing. With timely permitting, DGC expects to begin construction in late summer or early fall and would be in service during the first or second quarter of 2022.
CO2 capture and storage is nothing new to DGC, which operates a 205-mile-long pipeline delivering CO2 to the Weyburn and Midale oil fields in southern Saskatchewan for enhanced oil recovery. The total cost of the Dakota Carbon Pipeline project is estimated to be about $25 million.
Grand Forks Group to Tour the Bakken
Members of the Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce will be making a return trip to western North Dakota next month to tour oilfield facilities and meet with community leaders in the Bakken.
The chamber organized a similar outing when the boom was taking off in 2010, and resulted in the establishment of new business relationships between East and West, according to Chamber President Barry Wilfahrt.
"It's been a good partnership," Wilfahrt said. "We have 120 Grand Forks businesses that are providing products and services to companies and communities in the oilpatch."
Like the previous visit, the delegation making the trek July 13-14 will include local business interests, legislators, and employees of the University of North Dakota and the Energy and Environmental Research Center.
Wilfahrt said he has encouraged Grand Forks area legislators to support the oil and gas industry because of its tremendous impact on the state. He said taxes generated by the industry have delivered more than $1 billion in benefits to the Grand Forks area over the past 12 years including new law school and medical school buildings, and half the cost of a new water treatment plant.
Click here to see the itinerary for East Revisits West.
PSC to Consider Plans for 208 MW Facility
The ND Public Service Commission will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, August 24, regarding a proposal to construct a wind project in Bowman County.
The hearing, originally scheduled for June 24, was postponed at the request of the company. Bowman Wind LLC is proposing to construct a wind farm with up to 74 turbines with a nameplate capacity of 208.7 megawatts. The project would cover a 42,144-acre area a few miles west of Bowman.
Additional project facilities include access roads, electrical collection and communication systems and cabling, an operation and maintenance facility, two permanent meteorological towers, a project substation and a battery storage facility. The estimated cost of the project is $420 million.
The August 24 hearing is scheduled to begin at 8:00 a.m. MDT at the Four Seasons Pavilion at 12 Highway 12 East in Bowman.
Schafer Serves on Lignite Council Board
Mandan businessman Perrie Schafer was elected as state chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party at the organization’s annual state committee meeting last weekend in Medora.
Schafer, CEO of Environmental Services, Ltd., has served as a contractor/supplier member of the board of the Lignite Energy Council. He replaces outgoing chairman Rick Berg, who chose not to run for re-election.
Website Offers a New Way to Shop Local
The North Dakota Small Business Development Center has launched a new platform for small businesses to come together and sell their products and services online.
"We’re excited to be able to offer ShopND.com at no-cost to our clients," said Greg Syrup, CARES Program Director for the organization. "This platform provides an opportunity for North Dakota patrons to support local businesses from the comfort of their own homes. Customers can choose local pickup, shipping, or even local delivery if offered by the business."
The ND SBDC has eight service centers across North Dakota to assist both start-ups and existing businesses in every county. As the program looks to help business owners emerge strong on the other side of the pandemic, an opportunity like ShopND.com is just one of the many ways the credentialed advisors of the ND SBDC are empowering North Dakota’s small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive.
"Customers are interested in buying local and supporting their communities, but oftentimes it can be time consuming to visit multiple stores to find what they’re looking for," said Syrup. "A key component of this platform is that local small businesses can all sell on one website, which provides an incredible convenience and a variety of product offerings for shoppers to choose from and then buy with just one checkout."
Businesses have just started to add products to the site. Those interested in adding items for sale are encouraged to register on the website or contact Greg Syrup at email@example.com for more information or to ask questions.
Applications are now being accepted for the Innovation Technology Loan Fund (LIFT) to support technology advancement.
The program was established by the 2019 Legislature for the purpose of providing financing for commercialization of intellectual property within North Dakota.
The legislation outlines the following industries as appropriate uses for the funds:
- Advanced computing and data management
- Agriculture technology
- Autonomous and unmanned vehicles and related technologies
- Health care
- Value-added agriculture
- Value-added energy
- Any industry or area specifically identified by the committee as an industry that will contribute to the diversification of the state’s economy.
Applicants meeting the criteria are encouraged to apply. Applications will be reviewed by the Department of Commerce to ensure they meet the criteria outlined in the legislation, and then turned over to the committee for approval or rejection.
If approved, the applicant will work with the Bank of North Dakota to structure and establish the loan and access the funds.
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, a 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 has resigned to accept a position in Idaho.
NDPC Partnering with Univ of Mary on Effort
The ND Petroleum Council is partnering with the University of Mary Workforce Development Department and Envision Partners to launch a Leadership and Management Certification Program.
The program provides rising and current leaders with a professional development experience. All nine courses in the program are complemented by executive coaching sessions for those choosing to complete the entire series. The classes will be delivered through distance learning via the Zoom platform. The University of Mary will award participants with a Leadership and Management Plaque upon successful completion of all courses. Participants can also pick and choose courses and take them a la carte.
2021 Class Topics & Dates (all times CDT)
- Conflict Management – Aug 17 or 19: 1 – 5 pm (4-hour training)
- Emerging Leader – Sept 1, 8, 15, 22: 1 – 5 pm (2-day training)
- Delegation – Sept 28 or 30: 1 – 5 pm (4-hour training)
- Strategic Leader – Oct 6, 13, 20, 27: 1 – 5 pm (2-day training)
- Inclusion & Diversity – Nov 9, 23, 30, Dec 7: 1 – 5 pm (2-day training)
- Effective Workplace Communication – Dec 14 or 16: 1 – 5 pm (4-hour training)
For more information including cost of registration, click here.
- Land Board takes no action on energy company settlement offers -- Associated Press
- Bakken Pipeline expected to help ND production, natural gas capture -- NGI
- More research into 'rare earth' elements in lignite coal -- Prairie Public Radio
- How Wyoming’s success in carbon capture matters to North Dakota -- KXMB-TV
- UND's EERC studies hydrogen 'roadmap,' underground storage -- Fargo Forum
- DOE grants more than $3.3 million to fund energy research in Montana -- KFYR-TV
- Boom in Native American oil complicates Biden climate push -- Associated Press
- With oil prices up, Bakken drilling activity is picking up -- McKenzie County Farmer
- Despite pressure from opponents, Biden continues defense of Line 3 project -- Fargo Forum
- When will oil and gas activity get back to normal? -- Williston Herald
- Failed candidate for governor leads effort to recall Governor Burgum -- Associated Press
- Lawmakers confirm talks with Governor Burgum about special session -- KFYR-TV
- ND tax revenues doing well, despite the pandemic challenges -- Prairie Public Radio
- 15 GOP governors urge release of Census redistricting data, including Burgum -- KXMB-TV
- School District Board okays agreement with teachers for next school year -- Williston Herald
- 1963 addition to Beulah High School demolished as part of update -- KFYR-TV
- Voters reject $86 million bond referendum for Grand Forks Public Schools -- KVRR-TV
- School administrators try to fill the void of teacher shortage -- KXMB-TV
- North Dakota’s unemployment rate nearing pre-pandemic levels -- KFYR-TV
- Central ND remains in exceptional drought, other areas improved -- Minot Daily News
- Watford City, McKenzie County taxable sales plummet in first quarter -- McKenzie County Farmer
- Sales stats show decline but not everyone is buying it -- The Journal
- Bakken BBQ garners largest crowd in event history -- Dickinson Press
- ND Safety Council, OSHA and other groups work for 'trench safety' -- Prairie Public Radio
- Bank of North Dakota sees nearly $28 million drop in profits in 2020 -- KFYR-TV
- Coal prices hit decade high despite efforts to wean off carbon -- Wall Street Journal
- Interior sec'y says no plan 'right now' to ban new oil, gas leasing -- Reuters
- Oil climbs to highest in over two years as U.S. supplies tighten -- Reuters
- While claiming 'environmental justice', protesters vandalize native businesses -- Energy In Depth
- SEC wants more climate disclosures, businesses prepare to fight -- Wall Street Journal
- Reducing oil use to meet climate targets is tougher than cutting supply -- Reuters
- Blackouts loom in California as electricity prices are ‘absolutely exploding’ -- Real Clear Energy
- Biden administration stands by BLM nominee despite tree-spiking case -- Washington Times
- California Dreamin’ meets reality: Don’t charge your EV during heat waves -- Climate Realism
Factoid of the Week
The US federal debt has reached 120.5% of the nation’s annual economic output breaking a record set in 1946 from spending associated with World War II. The current measure includes $2.5 trillion in new debt courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic. The main cause has been increased government spending on social programs which grew from 20% of federal expenses in 1959 to 62% in 2018.
Eagle Ridge Golf Course and The Links of ND
Bismarck and Bus Tour
Bismarck and Washburn
June 25, 2021
WTI Crude: $74.05
Brent Crude: $76.18
Natural Gas: $3.50
North Dakota Active Oil Rigs: 20 (Down 1) 6/25/2020 -- 10 rigs