Energy

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Some members of the North Dakota Public Service Commission think the state’s energy siting laws may need to be reviewed – after a natural gas processing plant was allowed to undergo a huge expansion.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A natural gas plant in McKenzie County will be undergoing a $150 million expansion.

The Public Service Commission has okayed Oasis Midstream’s expansion of its Wild Basin Plant. The plant will go from processing 80 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to processing 280 million cubic feet per day.

The original plant came on line in 2016. Because of that, PSC chairman Randy Christmann said the application raised some questions.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The CEO of Meridian Energy said a proposed oil refinery to be built near the Bakken will be – as he put it – the “cleanest refinery on this planet.”

The Davis refinery is proposed for a site near Belfield.

"We have taken every bit of technology that's been invented over the last 50 years," said Meridian CEO William Prentice. "As a result, the emissions per 1000 barrels per day will be a fraction of the industry average."

Prentice said work on the Davis Refinery will begin soon after an air quality permit is issued.

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."

Wildfire Poses Risks In Oil Country

Jul 17, 2017
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

When wildfires break out in oil and gas country, they pose certain risks -- like last week when a fire started up in the badlands of western North Dakota.

The blaze, dubbed the "Magpie Fire," raged through 5,400 acres, much of it in the Dakota Prairie Grasslands.

Medora District Ranger Shannon Boehm with the U.S. Forest Service said when the agency got word a fire had sparked, staff called oil companies operating in the region.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

Way up in northern North Dakota lies an old oilfield with a problem 60 years in the making.

It’s noticeable on farmers’ land, like the fields harvested by Clarke Stevens near the small town of Glenburn.

His wheat fields span far across the prairie. In the middle is a 3-acre patch of barren soil.

“We’re always farming around areas like this, and every year they continue to grow,” Stevens said.

This is the site of an old brine pit. Decades ago, trucks took this salty wastewater — produced alongside oil from nearby wells — and dumped it into this pit.

Amy Sisk / Prairie Public

The number of wells producing oil is at an all-time high in North Dakota at 13,876, but this isn’t translating into higher oil output.

The latest numbers released by the state show that oil production in May was above 1 million barrels of oil per day. But it was down just slightly from the month before despite more wells operating.

At his monthly press briefing Friday, mineral resources director Lynn Helms said the reason is two-fold.

Morton County

North Dakota has been denied reimbursement from the federal government for the costs it incurred in dealing with the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

In a letter dated May 18th, the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied the state’s request for a disaster declaration because of DAPL. The state had 30 days to appeal – but that was denied as well.

"I'm disappointed," said Sen. Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson). "The whole incident was on federal property, and they had a responsibility to take care of it."

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

Coal state lawmakers want to make cleaning up coal more economically attractive. A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced Wednesday they are re-introducing a bill to expand tax credits for projects to capture carbon dioxide.

The coal industry faces a big problem in cleaning up emissions: cost. It’s often a barrier to moving clean coal technology out of the research stage and getting it to work on a commercial scale.

A shortage of oil workers

Jul 13, 2017

Standing on the shoulder of I-25 in eastern Wyoming, see a herd of pronghorn antelope running off that way and on this side of the interstate a billboard which reads “Crude Oil Drivers Wanted. Text Crude to 865-337-8415.”

This is happening in oil fields from North Dakota down to Texas.

HELMS: “You'll see close to 200 frack crew jobs listed for North Dakota,"

North Dakota Mineral Resources Director, Lynn Helms at a press conference last month.

HELMS: "The rigs are outrunning the frack crews."

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