Slight drop in oil production reported in November

Jan 13, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

"Slips, Trips and Falls." 

That's State mineral resources director Lynn Helms' theme for the January director’s cut briefing – where he presented November’s oil and gas production.

"Production did slide -- or slip -- from October to November," Helms said. "About 10,000 barrels a day."

It dropped from 1,043,693 barrels a day in October, to 1,033,693 barrels a day in November. And Helms said about 80 percent of that slip happened on the Ft. Berthold reservation.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

The coal industry is breathing a sigh of relief with Donald Trump about to enter the White House.

He campaigned on an energy platform that would strip away Obama administration regulations on the fossil fuel industry. Chief among them: the Clean Power Plan.

DAPL protest costs estimated at $22.3 million

Jan 10, 2017
Courtesy Morton County Sheriff's Department

The Morton County Sheriff’s Office estimates $22.3 million has been spent so far in dealing with the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.

In a statement, the office says it has been more than 150 days of response, adding up to more that 181-thousand hours. 91 in-state agencies have lent their support, along with 33 out of state agencies.

556 protestor have been arrested – more than 94 percent of them from out-of-state.

Oilfield Worker Dies Near Belfield

Jan 5, 2017
Amy Sisk / Prairie Public

An oilfield worker died Wednesday in a fire at a well site north of Belfield.

Officials say the fire occurred at a treater shack -- a facility housing equipment that separates oil, water and gas extracted from a well.

Emergency responders found the body with the remains of the shack, which burned to the ground. The Billings County sheriff says a nearby landowner heard an explosion about 15 minutes before the fire was reported.


Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

North Dakota has never experienced anything like the battle over the 1,200 mile Dakota Access Pipeline. Thousands of people from across the globe flocked to a remote grassy field this year, building a village of tents and teepees from scratch.

Protests near construction sites and in the state capital of Bismarck led to clashes with police, whose armored vehicles and pepper spray played out on Facebook streams broadcast live to the world.

State sues over 'stream rule'

Dec 21, 2016

The state of North Dakota has filed suit in federal court to stop a new Interior Department rule designed to protect streams from adverse impacts of coal mining.

State officials say the new rule was written with Appalachia in mind – and doesn’t work with open pit lignite mines.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission regulates lignite mining. Commissioner Randy Christmann said the rule would be devastating for the industry.

“What they’re proposing to do here effectively takes a good part of our coal reserves and makes them impossible to mine,” said Christmann.

Oil spill cleanup continues near Belfield

Dec 14, 2016
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Clean up work continues on an oil pipeline leak near Belfield.

More than 176,000 gallons of oil leaked from the Belle Fourche Pipeline. The oil traveled nearly 5 miles off site. It has affected the Ash Coulee creek,  but has not gone into the Little Missouri River.

The Industrial Commission’s oil and gas division says that pipeline dates to the 1980s, but the section of the pipeline in question was replaced in 2012. State mineral resources director Lynn Helms saids the pipeline only had pressure gauges on it to detect leaks.

ND oil production again over one million barrels a day

Dec 14, 2016
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A big surprise in the October oil production numbers -- North Dakota's oil production is back over one million barrels a day.

The count was 1,043,207 barrels per day -- up from 971,760 in Sepetember.

"That's a 7 1/2 increase," said state Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms at his monthly "Director's Cut" briefing. Helms attributed the increase to better oil prices.

"The oil price in October went above $40 a barrel for the first time since june, 2015," Helms said. "For the first time in 18 months, we saw sustained plus-$40 prices for North Dakota sweet crude."

Corps of Engineers rejects DAPL easement

Dec 5, 2016
Amy Sisk / Prairie Public/Inside Energy

The Army Corps of Engineers says it will not grant an easement to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Reservation.

US Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said the decision means more consultation with the Standing Rock Tribe, as well as a new look at alternative routes.

This comes as welcome news to thousands of protestors who have been camped near the Cannonball River, on Corps land. Tribal spokesperson Ken Frost brought the news.

Another $7 million allocated to deal with DAPL protest

Nov 30, 2016
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state’s Emergency Commission has approved another $7 million for costs associated with the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

"This is the third request," said Sheila Peterson of the North Dakota Office of Management and Budget. "It totals $17 million."

Peterson told the Commission the money will come from special funds, as well as Bank of North Dakota borrowing authority.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he’s made a number of requests for federal help to deal with those costs – but so far, the costs have gone unanswered.