Oil wells transfer to new Bakken operators

Oct 10, 2017
Amy Sisk / Prairie Public

North Dakota officials have noticed an uptick in the number of oil wells transferring ownership in the Bakken.

Nearly 700 wells are in the process of being transferred from longtime North Dakota operators to new ones, mineral resources director Lynn Helms said Tuesday in his department’s monthly oil and gas briefing.That number’s unusual given that, recently, only 100 wells were transferred in a typical month.

“Companies have re-evaluated their business model and decided to focus on an area where they’re having greater success,”  Helms said.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

No word yet from the US Geological Survey on whether it will do an updated assessment of the oil in the Bakken and Three Forks formations.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) and others asked USGS for that reassessment recently. That could lead to more exploration and development in the Bakken.

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms saids USGS is now talking about a full Williston Basin-wide assessment in a few years. Helms said some oil investors have told him that might be a better approach.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

When a company enters oil and gas country, it wants to know there’s enough oil and gas in the ground that business will be robust for a long time.

One way it gets that assurance? An estimate from the U.S. Geological Survey showing how much oil and gas remains untapped.

Officials in North Dakota are pushing the agency do this for its Bakken and Three Forks formations.

Back in 2008 the USGS did a study in the Bakken, concluding the shale play contained 3.7 billion barrels of oil available for operators to extract.

Lightning And Oil Country: A Volatile Mix

Aug 28, 2017
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

Dozens of times during the summer as the rain picks up here on the prairie, suddenly, there’s a flash.

“You can be sitting there watching it, enjoying the night and all the sudden, boom!” said Kyle Chernenko, a resident of Grassy Butte.

Chernenko has watched these prairie thunderstorms his whole life from his home in North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch. He’s the volunteer fire chief in this small town.

Bakken, other shale plays 'recovering' from downturn

Jul 18, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The program director for the Bakken Conference and Expo – being held in Bismarck this week – said after a few years of being on “pause,” the Bakken – and other shale plays around the country – are rebounding.

"I think there's definitely a sense in the industry that they're more comfortable with where oil prices are and what that means," said Luke Geiver, editor of North American Shale Magazaine. "You hear the term 'cautiously optimistic.' And whether it's in Hobbs, NM, Midland, TX or Watford City, ND, I think that's the term."

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

There’s a sense of excitement taking over the Bakken oil patch, like at the M&H gas station in Williston.

Over the last year, it was pretty quiet for store manager Angela Neuman.

“Now, there’s a constant rush at some point or another during the day,” she said. “You notice more cars, you notice more fuel, you notice your fuel deliveries are more.”

She’s having to place more orders for her two most popular items: cigarettes and chewing tobacco.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will continue curbing oil output through March 2018, opening the door for more production in the United States.


Late last year, OPEC -- along with Russia -- agreed to cut production. 

The cartel wanted to boost oil prices amid an oversupply of crude on the global market. 

But OPEC's cuts gave the United States an opportunity to fill in the gap. Oil production here soared and prices have moved up, but more slowly than anticipated. 

Amy Sisk / Prairie Public

Oil production is bouncing back, but North Dakota is having trouble finding workers to fill new energy jobs.

North Dakota is once again producing over 1 million barrels of oil per day, after the number dropped below a million this winter. It rebounded in February, according to figures released Thursday from the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources.

EERC to develop technology to produce renewable chemicals

Oct 1, 2015

The Energy and Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota has been awarded a grant to develop and commercialize a new technology for producing fluids used in petroleum production.

Chris Zygarlicke is Associate Vice President for Strategic Projects and University Relations with the EERC.

"We have developed a novel hydroconversion series of catalysts and the catalysts just help you convert a vegetable oil to renewable chemicals - fluids. So that is, essentially, the technology."

North Dakota mineral resources director Lynn Helms says he hopes to have a suggested order on oil conditioning ready for the Industrial Commission to review next month.

The call for conditioning comes on the heels of several incidents where trains carrying Bakken crude exploded in accidents.

The Mineral Resources Department recently held a hearing on conditioning. Helms says his office has just finished combing through the testimony at that hearing – and should have an order ready for the Commission's mid-November meeting.