Electric transmission lines like the 115KV line on Highway 83 adjacent to Lake Audubon are becoming more important as additional sources of power generation are added to the grid.
Struggle to Find Workers for Frac Crews
North Dakota oil production barely crept upwards in May, but it wasn't because the state's oil producers weren't trying to pump more crude from the ground.
Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, said he was expecting to see a larger increase as spring arrived, but the industry is struggling to find employees for frac crews to bring new wells into production.
Click here to listen to Helms' comments.
Production inched upward to an average of 1,127,517 barrels per day in May, just 4,000 bbl/day higher than the April figure. In his monthly director's cut news conference, Helms said fracking companies are trying to hire workers to boost production, but aren't finding many applicants.
Click here to listen to Helms' comments.
Helms said it appears most of the frac workers laid off during the pandemic have found new jobs in Texas or New Mexico. He said North Dakota companies will have to offer more enticements to attract workers to the state.
Click here to listen to Helms' comments.
The May Director's Cut shows the frac crews that are working have reduced the number of DUC wells (drilled but uncompleted) from 731 down to 677. There are currently 23 drilling rigs operating in the state.
Natural gas production was up one percent in May, averaging just under three billion cubic feet per day. Producers were able to capture and process 92 percent of the gas, down slightly from the 94 percent capture rate achieved in April.
Panel to Consider Cutting Edge Projects
The individuals who will make up a newly-created Clean Sustainable Energy Authority have been chosen by the organizations empowered to appoint its members.
The authority, created by the 2021 ND Legislature's enactment of HB 1452, will support the research and development of large-scale projects that advance energy production, reduce environmental impacts and diversify the state's economy. The legislation specified that the authority will include eight voting members - two each from the Lignite Research Council, Oil and Gas Research Council and Renewable Energy Council - and another to be named by the Western Dakota Energy Association. The authority chair, who has yet to be named, will be chosen by Legislative Management.
Authority appointees include:
Oil and Gas Research Council
- Kathleen Neset - President/Owner, NESET Consulting
- Jim Arthaud - CEO of Wave Petroleum Operating LLC, MBI Oil & Gas, Stout Street, and ND Energy Services.
Lignite Research Council:
- Christopher Friez - Attorney/Land Manager, North American Coal Corporation
- Robert (Mac) McLennan - President/CEO, Minnkota Power Cooperative
Renewable Energy Council:
- Al Christianson - Director Business Development/ND Government Affairs, Great River Energy
- Terry Goerger - President, Goerger Seed & Supply Co.
Western Dakota Energy Association:
- Joel Brown - VP Mineral Services Manager, First International Bank & Trust
Governor Doug Burgum previously challenged each of the councils to appoint "people who might actually be driving investment toward clean, sustainable energy versus people that are just lobbying for existing industries."
The authority will also include eight non-voting members consisting of directors of various government departments and one appointee from the ND Outdoor Heritage Fund advisory board. The board appointed Rachel Retterath, who is the Business Development and Governmental Affairs Manager for Great River Energy.
Engineering, Financial Qualities Cited
The Executive Committee of the Western Dakota Energy Association voted at its June meeting to appoint Joel Brown as WDEA's representative on the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority.
Brown serves as the Mineral and Land Services Manager for Mineral Tracker, a software program he and partners created to aid mineral owners with managing their minerals, wells, rigs and permits. He is a reservoir engineer, who graduated at the top of the UND Petroleum Engineering program's inaugural class in 2013.
Brown grew up in McKenzie County and has worked in and around the oil and gas industry his entire life. He also serves in numerous leadership capacities in the community. Brown is a McKenzie County Commissioner, chair of the McKenzie County Job Development Authority, and serves on the boards of the Watford City Rough Rider Fund Committee, the Rough Rider Center Advisory Committee and the Save the Maah Daah Hey Foundation.
No Action on Ordinance to Limit Landfills
The Williams County Commission is planning to hold a public hearing on a proposed ordinance that would limit the number of landfills in the county that could accept TENORM (technologically-enhanced naturally-occurring radioactive material).
The county last month approved conditional use permits for two companies - Secure Energy and WISCO Inc. - to dispose of low-level TENORM waste at existing landfills in the county (see July 2 newsletter).
The decision to postpone action followed discussion on the draft ordinance introduced by Commissioner David Montgomery, who has expressed concern that more landfills could develop in the county. But Commissioner Cory Hanson said he didn't believe that would happen because the industry and the free market would limit the number that could exist. Montgomery said he tended to agree, but said industry activity can be unpredictable.
Click here to listen to Montgomery's comments.
The commission unanimously defeated a motion to approve the ordinance, and instead directed the county planning and zoning commission to arrange a meeting to hear public comment on the proposal.
Click here and advance to the 27:50 mark to watch video of the county commission's discussion.
Balancing Power of Governor and Lawmakers
An interim legislative committee is looking into possible changes to the spending authority of the state Emergency Commission, which was capped by a bill enacted by the 2021 Legislature over the objection of Gov. Doug Burgum.
The interim Government Finance Committee heard an explanation of the issue from Grand Forks Senator Ray Holmberg, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee. Holmberg opened in his remarks noting that everyone has done things in the heat of the moment that they later regret, which he said may have been the case with passage of SB 2290, which limits the Emergency Commission's spending authority to $50 million of federal funds and $5 million of special funds in a biennium.
Click here to listen to Holmberg's comments.
The Emergency Commission consists of the Governor, Secretary of State, the House and Senate majority leaders, and the chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee. The commission largely directed the expenditure of $1.25 billion in federal aid that came to the state from the CARES Act to relieve the economic burden created by the pandemic. Recommendations of the commission were formally approved by the legislature's 43-member Budget Section, but its members had little say in formulating spending plans.
Holmberg said the fact that only the four legislators on the Emergency Commission were involved in developing the state's spending priorities left the other 137 legislators "with an empty feeling in their stomach."
Click here to listen to Holmberg's comments.
Holmberg said despite some dissatisfaction with the way in which spending plans were developed, he believes good decisions were made.
Click here to listen to Holmberg's comments.
The committee received several memorandums during the meeting that outlined the history of Emergency Commission decisions. Holmberg noted that until the pandemic occurred, the amounts to be spent were generally quite small, averaging just $33 million in the five bienniums that preceded the pandemic. The group will meet again in September to discuss raising the spending limits imposed on the Emergency Commission.
First Interim Meeting in Grand Forks
The ND Legislature's interim Energy Development and Transmission Committee will kick off its policy studies with an early August meeting 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.
Calls Closing Decision "Preposterous"
Letter Sent Urging Plan to Reopen Border
Gov. Doug Burgum sent a joint letter today with the governors of Montana and Idaho and the premiers of Saskatchewan and Alberta, urging the federal governments of the U.S. and Canada to reach an agreement to reopen the international border immediately.
The letter follows this week’s decision by the Biden administration to extend restrictions on nonessential travel at the U.S.-Canada border until at least August 21. Burgum issued a statement, sharply criticizing the decision.
“After months of harmful and unnecessary delays, these border restrictions have now crossed the line from precautionary to preposterous,” Burgum said. “Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination rate has surpassed our own, yet the Biden administration continues to stand in the way of a long-overdue reopening of the border with our closest ally and trading partner.
Biden's decision came two days after Canada’s announcement that it would reopen its border to vaccinated U.S. citizens for nonessential travel on August 9.
The letter sent today was co-signed by Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
“As we continue to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and work together on joint initiatives to provide vaccinations to more and more of our citizens every day, the time has come to allow our citizens to move safely and securely across our shared border,” the leaders said in the letter. “For the well-being and future prosperity of both our nations, we must embrace personal responsibility by providing vaccinations to citizens seeking the vaccine, reduce mitigations that cause economic harm and encourage travel for commerce and tourism."
Nearly 9,000 Acres in Mountrail County
Whiting Petroleum announced this week it has entered into an agreement with an undisclosed seller to acquire 8,752 net acres in Mountrail County for total cash consideration of $271 million.
To partially offset the cost of the transaction, Whiting plans to divest its Redtail oil and gas assets in Weld County, Colorado. The assets, which cover more than 67,000 acres with daily production of 7,100 barrels of oil equivalent, are being sold to a private entity for $187 million.
The Bakken acreage includes 61 undrilled locations, five drilled but uncompleted (DUC) wells, and currently produces 4,200 BOE/day, of which 80% is oil. Company officials say there is significant upside from Whiting Petroleum’s existing operations in the Sanish field.
“These two transactions result in a significantly deeper drilling inventory in our key Sanish operating area, while divesting of properties in Colorado that were not going to compete internally for capital," said Whiting CEO Lynn A. Peterson. "These transactions demonstrate our strategy to focus our attention on value-enhancing opportunities that compete for capital in a $50 oil environment."
Peterson said the company estimates that in a mid-$50s oil environment, it has more than six years of high-quality drilling inventory, assuming a two-rig drilling program.
Click here for more information about Whiting Petroleum Corporation.
New Generation Distant from Load Centers
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on possible changes to improve transmission planning, cost allocation and generator interconnection processes as more wind and solar generation is added to the grid.
FERC issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking it entitled, Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection. The NOPR notes that new electric power resources, including renewables, are often located far from load centers. The notice points out the new resources seeking to connect to the transmission system and the "differing characteristics of those resources" are creating new demands on the electric grid.
“As the generation fleet shifts at an unprecedented rate from resources located closer to population centers towards resources located far from load centers, we must evaluate whether our transmission planning and cost allocation and generator interconnection processes require a more innovative and anticipatory approach,” said FERC Chairman Rich Glick. “A piecemeal approach to expanding the transmission system is not going to get the job done. We must take steps today to build the transmission that tomorrow’s new generation resources will require.”
The FERC notice seeks comment on a more forward-looking approach on how to build and allocate the cost of transmission infrastructure in this country.
“(The NOPR) is a critical first step in ensuring that FERC is thinking innovatively and actually anticipating transmission that will meet the needs of new generation as our nation continues to aggressively transition to a clean energy future,” Chairman Glick said.
Click here to read more about the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
GNDC Event to Cover ESG Movement
The effect of a movement that discourages investment in fossil fuels is among the topics that will be discussed at the Greater North Dakota Chamber's 2021 Policy Summit to be held August 12 in Bismarck.
The event brings together business and government leaders to discuss topics affecting North Dakota's business climate and the state's future growth. One of those topics is ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) criteria, which has created concern in North Dakota because of its implications for the oil, gas and coal industries. The concept behind ESG is that it promotes "sustainable business practices," which in the eyes of some means moving away from fossil fuels.
GNDC has put together a panel that includes Nicole Kivisto, President and CEO of Montana-Dakota Utilities; Blu Hulsey, Senior VP Government & Regulatory Affairs for Continental Resources; and State Treasurer Thomas Beadle. The panel will be moderated by Lt. Governor Brent Sanford. Discussion will focus on how ESG policies are influencing business decisions in North Dakota. A specific discussion point will focus on the ways ESG is impacting energy producers and their suppliers, including access to capital and insurance needed to operate.
The policy summit features three other panel discussions. Topics include:
- Is Constitutional Measure Reform Needed?
- Too big, too small, just right - Views on ND's $16.9B Budget
- ND's Changing Political Dynamics and Policy Implications
The event will get underway at 9:00 a.m, August 12, at the Ramkota Hotel and Convention Center in Bismarck. Registration is $125 for GNDC members and $175 for non-members. Click here for additional details or to register.
Now 52 Locations Throughout the State
The North Dakota Department of Transportation has wrapped up a kiosk installation project which added 44 new kiosks and several driver’s license services to existing kiosks.
There are now 52 kiosk locations across North Dakota.
“The new driver’s license kiosk upgrades add another convenient option for customers doing business with the NDDOT and also expands services into rural communities,” NDDOT Director Bill Panos said. “We are always working to grow and innovate to make services more convenient for our customers.”
With the kiosk upgrades, drivers can now renew a license, request a replacement license or ID card, schedule a road test, pay a reinstatement fee, change their address, and edit donor registry information. They can also check the status of their license, driving record, CDL medical card and validate their date of birth. Individuals are not able to get their initial REAL ID via a kiosk but would be able to renew at one.
Additional kiosk services were also added for motor vehicles. In addition to registration renewals, customers can now complete their 30-day and non-resident temporary registration, update their email or mailing address, and request a placard for handicapped parking.
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.
Main Street Summit Set for October 12
Nominations for the 2021 Governor’s Main Street Awards are being accepted through August 13. Awards in five different categories will be presented at the Main Street ND Summit on October 12 in West Fargo.
“Every year we are grateful to see all the communities and individuals taking innovative approaches to build healthy, vibrant communities,” said Gov. Doug Burgum. “These awards are a great reflection of the dedication that many North Dakotans have to enhance the quality of life for current and future residents.”
The Main Street Awards are a collaborative effort of the Office of Governor and the ND Department of Commerce. A selection committee made up of the collaborating agencies and partners will judge the entries to determine the award winners. This year’s award categories include:
ND Legendary Heritage Award – This award recognizes communities focused on preserving, protecting and celebrating their historical and cultural heritage.
Healthy, Vibrant Community Award – This award recognizes communities or groups that have made investments in projects that enhance the health and vibrancy of communities.
Smart, Efficient Infrastructure Award – This award recognizes a community that has made sound planning decisions by investing in spaces with existing infrastructure, such as a vacant lot (infill) or dilapidated building.
21st Century Workforce Award – Two awards are given in this category to recognize excellence in either efforts to attract or retain workforce or efforts to train existing workers in a community.
Main Street Excellence Award – This award recognizes communities whose efforts embody all three pillars of the Main Street Initiative: Smart, Efficient Infrastructure; 21st Century Workforce; and Healthy, Vibrant Communities.
Click here for more information or to nominate an individual or business.
- Dakota Access Pipeline operator faces fine over safety violations -- Bismarck Tribune
- DAPL addressing safety issues identified by federal agency -- Bismarck Tribune
- Port: It's not wind or solar keeping your air conditioner running -- Fargo Forum
- Enforcement action pending against proppant warehouse -- Williston Herald
- Wilkinsons testify in hearing for disputed lakebed minerals -- Williston Herald
- WBI begins work on Bakken natural gas pipeline expansion -- Natural Gas Intelligence
- Ethanol neighbor to Coal Creek preparing for new relationship with plant -- KFYR-TV
- North Dakota has billions in the bank: Revenue higher than expected -- KX News
- State implores feds for more rancher aid; heat setting more records in state -- Bismarck Tribune
- Drought conditions persist in ND, so dry, so long -- Minot Daily News
- Special election scheduled Nov. 9 to determine city commission seat -- Tioga Tribune
- City building inspections bring earful from owners -- Crosby Journal
- Dickinson reviews annual report from Public Transportation -- Dickinson Press
- Program helps healthcare system meet nursing shortag -- McKenzie County Farmer
- Bowman County selected for Artists on Main Street -- ND Commerce Department
- Minot Public Schools looking at $6 million budget shortfall -- Minot Daily News
- K-12 leaders see tools for new ND Native American studies requirement -- Bismarck Tribune
- North Dakota F.O.P. wants to help teachers buy school supplies -- KFYR-TV
- US oil and gas industry supports millions of jobs, trillions to economy -- Energy in Depth
- Why we can't afford to turn our backs on fossil fuels -- OilPrice.com
- FERC takes first step toward easing construction of electric transmission lines -- Washington Examiner
- FERC considers electric transmission and interconnection reforms to aid renewables -- JD Supra
- The gigantic holes in anti-oil ESG activism, there is no substitute -- Real Clear Politics
- The climate change agenda goes out with a bang -- Wall Street Journal
- China keeps fooling Washington with empty climate promises -- Inside Sources
- Green technologies cause massive waste and pollution -- Institute for Energy Research
- Ohio nixes preferred siting and accelerated depreciation for wind/solar -- Master Resource
Factoid of the Week
EERC - Grand Forks
The ARC - Williston
July 23, 2021
WTI Crude: $72.07
Brent Crude: $74.10
Natural Gas: $4.06
North Dakota Active Oil Rigs: 23 (Unchanged) 7/23/2020 -- 12 rigs