Industrial Commission extends waivers for inactive and non-completed oil wells

Jul 2, 2017

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms.
Credit ND Department of Mineral Resources

The state’s Industrial Commission is extending the waivers for inactive oil wells and non-completed wells.

Non-completed wells have been drilled, but have not been fracked. The inactive wells have been drilled and fracked, but are not producing oil. Current waivers say those wells need to be active a year after being granted a waiver – but the Commission is extending that for another six months.

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms told the Industrial Commission there are a number of reasons. One is price.

"Oil prices have dropped back below $50," Helms said. "The price continues to linger there."

Another is the lack of frack crews.

"They're currently running 20 (crews)," Helsms said. "They'd like to have 25. And there is a labor shortage out there."

And Helms said there is concern about drought. He said allowing a longer waiver could mean some relief for fresh water demand by agriculture.

"If an NC waiver expires, and a company is forced to frack a well, that's an 8 to 10 million gallon demand for water," Helms said. "We might be able to postpone that."

"We're taking more water out of aquifers and everything else at the time," said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, a member of the Industrial Commission. "That puts more pressure on the system."

Goehring said it's a good idea to buy six months.