Energy

Natural gas flaring on Ft. Berthold remains an issue

Feb 16, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The flaring of natural gas in North Dakota dropped to 13 percent in December.

In November, that figure was 14 percent.

The highest amount of flaring comes from wells on the Fort Berthold Reservation, where 20 percent of gas was flared.

The state has an overall goal of reducing flaring to 12 percent by November. But state mineral resources director Lynn Helms said that may be tough to do. He said the one big impediment is securing rights-of-way on Bureau of Indian Affairs controlled land for new natural gas gathering pipelines.

ND Oil production dips slightly in December

Feb 16, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Daily oil production in North Dakota dropped slightly in December, compared with November.

"We saw a 1.4 percent drop," said state Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms at his monthly "Director's Cut" briefing. "We lost about 16,000 barrels a day statewide."

The numbers: December production was 1,181,319 barrels a day. In November, the number was 1,196,976.

Helms said the weather had a lot to do with the drop.

Prairie Public file

The Public Service Commission has agreed to delay the formal hearings into MDU’s request for a natural gas rate increase.

The original hearing was scheduled to start February 28th. It is now scheduled to begin May 30th.

MDU has asked for a 5.4 percent rate increase – and that would bump up the average customer’s monthly gas bill by just under $3 a month.

The utility asked for the delay, as it figures out how the new federal tax cuts factor into that rate.

PSC to consider natural gas processing plant expansion

Feb 15, 2018
Prairie Public file

An Oklahoma-based natural gas processing company is proposing  a major expansion of one of its western North Dakota plants.

OneOK wants to increase the capacity of its Bear Creek plant in Dunn County. If the project gets Public Service Commission approval, it would go from 80 million cubic feet of gas per day to 175 million cubic feet of gas per day.

"It's obviously a response to the increase in natural gas production in the Bakken," said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. "Companies are trying to move quickly to respond to that added gas production."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Badlands Conservation Alliance and the North Dakota Wildlife Federation want to get a conversation started on oil, gas and energy development in North Dakota.

The two groups have produced a film called “Keeping All the Pieces,” in an attempt to get more public interest in the topic.

The groups say there's no planning document for development, or for reclamation.

"We have 14,000 wells now, and we're on our way to 50,000 to 60,000," said North Dakota Wildlife Federation past President Mike McEnroe. "What do we want out of this, 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now?"

Industrial Commission denies flaring exemption

Jan 25, 2018
Dave Thompson

The North Dakota Industrial Commission has turned down an oil company’s request for relief from the state’s natural gas flaring restrictions.

Marathon Oil had asked for the exemptions for a number of wells on or near the Fort Berthold Reservation. State mineral resources director Lynn Helms told the Commission Marathon asked for it due to “operational constraints and system design limitations.”

"The pipes are too small," Helms told the Commission. He recommended the Commission deny the request.

"This is exactly counter to your gas capture policy," Helms said.

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.

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