Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

For his monthly "Director's Cut" production report -- which reflects November production -- state mineral resources director Lynn Helms was upbeat.

"(It's) probably the most optimistic outlook we've had in a year or so," Helms told reporters.

In November, the state produced 1,194, 120 barrels of oil a day. The state’s all time high was 1,227,483 a day. That record was set in December, 2014.

"Sometime in the first half of this year, we should break that record and start setting record production again," Helms said.

Submitted photo

A member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission said while she’s glad OneOK is planning to build a new natural gas liquids pipeline to carry Bakken NGLs, she’s a little concerned that there may not be a supply for any potential petro-chemical industry development in North Dakota.

One OK is planning to build the $1.4 billion, 900 mile Elk Creek pipeline from eastern Montana to Kansas.

The head of the Lignite Energy Council said while he’s disappointed in a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruling concerning coal-fired power, the door is not yet closed.

The federal Department of Energy asked FERC to look at how baseload power plants are compensated as a part of the power grid for providing that power. But FERC said it didn’t want to make a change.

"It means more of the same," said Lignite Energy Council executive director Jason Bohrer.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Representatives of Trans-Canada -- the owner of the Keystone Pipeline -- met with North Dakota’s Public Service Commissioners to talk about a big oil spill in northern South Dakota, and the company’s response to it.

The pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of oil near the South Dakota city of Amherst.

The Keystone Pipeline runs through North Dakota into South Dakota.

Otter Tail Power granted an interim rate increase

Dec 21, 2017

North Dakota customers of Otter Tail Power Company will see their monthly electric bills rise in January.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission granted Otter Tail an interim rate increase, while it considers a permanent rate hike. Otter Tail filed for a $13.1 million dollar increase, which is 8.7 percent.  That would mean an average residential customer would pay another $11.50 a month. The interim increase means a customer’s bill would go up $8.86 a month.

New natural gas plant planned for McKenzie County

Dec 21, 2017
Dave Thompson

Another natural gas plant is being planned for McKenzie County.

Arrow Field Services is proposing the Bear Den Gas Processing Plant Two. The first plant produces 30 million cubic feet of gas per day. Phase two would add another 120 million cubic feet.

The Public Service Commission will hold a hearing on the siting for the plant.

Commissioner Brian Kroshus said the plant will be supplied with gas from the Ft. Berthold Reservation.

"The natural gas recovery from the reservation wells is 69 percent," Kroshus said. "That means 31 percent is being flared off."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Representatives of Meridian Energy say they hope to start construction next year on a new 27,500 barrel a day oil refinery near Belfield.

Company officials had an informal meeting with the North Dakota Public Service Commission, to update commissioners on the project. The PSC would get involved in siting the refinery, if it reached the 50,000 barrel per day threshold. Meridian is now waiting for a final decision from the state Health Department on an air quality permit.

Dave Thompson

October was a good month for oil production in North Dakota.

"I think the numbers are going to speak louder than anything I could," said state mineral resources director Lynn Helms. "It's really pretty remarkable."

What's remarkable is production jumped to nearly 1.2 million barrels a day -- a 78,000 barrel a day increase from September.

"That is the largest month-over-month increase we've ever had in North Dakota," Helms said in his monthly "Director's Cut" media briefing.

Interim committee studying wind power siting

Dec 14, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

An interim Legislative committee has begun a study of wind power in North Dakota – looking at wind farm siting laws and rules, as well as rules for decommissioning wind farms when they’re no longer used.

"The process of siting wind projects has gotten more and more controversial, as we see more farms developing," Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak told the interim Natural Resources Committee. "We've also gotten better at it."

But Fedorchak told the Committee she's open to find more improvements.

The president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council said he welcomes the US Geological Survey’s plans to conduct a comprehensive, broad-based resource estimate for the Williston Basin.

Ron Ness said when the USGS did a similar study in 2013, the estimate of recoverable oil at that time from the Bakken and Three Forks formations more than doubled, from 3.6 billion barrels to 7.4 billion barrels.