ND 'shatters' daily oil and gas production records

Jul 14, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota mineral resources director Lynn Helms called Friday's "Director's Cut" briefing "one of the most encouraging reports we've had in over three years."

The reason: in May, North Dakota hit a new daily oil production record, at 1,244,629 barrels a day.

"We didn't just set a new record, we shattered the old record," Helms said. "17,000 barrels a day more than the previous record, in December of 2014."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Xcel Energy’s North Dakota electric customers could be getting some money back, in the form of a one-time bill credit.

The reason: Xcel made too much money in 2017.

Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus said it's close to $3 million.

"It would equate to approximately $13.70 for the average customer," Kroshus said.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said this is the first time since she’s been a member of the PSC that there has been an "earnings refund."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Xcel Energy’s North Dakota customers will see a small reduction in their electric bills.

Xcel has ended its agreement to buy power from two biomass facilities in Minnesota.

Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus (craw-shush) said the agreement the utility made to purchase power from biomass plants was made to help meet a Minnesota renewable fuel standard.

Wind farms have decommissioning plans

Jun 28, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission has approved plans for the eventual decommissioning of 14 wind farms in North Dakota.

The plans require companies to have some identified way to pay for the reclamation of the site.

Commissioner Brian Kroshus called it a "forward-looking approach," so that the land can be reclaimed properly when the time comes to shut the turbines off. Kroshus said the unknown is – when will that happen.

"Many (wind farms) will be re-powered with new technology," Kroshus said. "We're seeing that already."

'Rare earth' elements could be a boon for North Dakota

Jun 12, 2018

There’s a lot of interest in what are called “rare earth elements.”

They have been found in North Dakota’s lignite deposits.

"They're 14 different elements," said North Dakota state geologist Ed Murphy. "They make very strong, and relatively small, magnets."

Murphy said they're used in things such as cell phones, solar technology and wind turbines.

"Every time we go out, we find a little bit higher levels of those rare earth elements," Murphy said. "We have found the highest concentration of those elements in coal in the nation."

PSC formal hearing on MDU natural gas rate case

May 31, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission is holding a formal hearing on MDU’s request for a natural gas rate increase.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has given the go-ahead to Hess Corporation to convert 19 miles of oil gathering pipeline to a transmission line.

That pipeline will connect to the Dakota Access Pipeline. It will have a capacity of up to 160,000 barrels of oil per day.

Hess will have to build three booster pumps. The cost of the conversion and addition of the booster pumps: $114 million.

Using raw natural gas for enhanced oil recovery

May 25, 2018
Amy Sisk

Later this year, a pilot project will begin in the Bakken to use raw natural gas for enhanced oil recovery.

Denver-based Liberty Resources. Liberty is partnering with the Energy and Environmental Research Center on the pilot project.

"We had an opportunity here that's been utilized elsewhere in conventional oil reservoirs," said Liberty president and CEO Mark Pearson. "Now there is a low-cost opportunity here."

Pearson said this technique is used in Alaska, in vertical wells.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

It’s been in business in the Williston Basin since 1980.

It started as Neset Consulting. It has now re-branded to simply “Neset”  -- because it has branched out into other areas of the oil industry.

Neset is owned 100 percent by Kathy Neset. Her firm has also received a national certification as a “Women’s Business Enterprise.”

Neset says she’s now working to attract more women into the oil and gas business.

"I'm trying to give a hand to that next young lady who is trying to come up in this industry," Neset said. "I want to show that person a way forward."