natural gas

ND Department of Mineral Resources

Oil production in September ticked up again.

Production that month went back over 1.1 million barrels a day.

"It's been a year and a half since we saw production over 1.1 million barrels a day," said North Dakota Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms in his monthly "Director's Cut" report. "The last time was March of 2016."

But natural gas production dropped slightly, meaning more gas was flared.

"That hasn't happened since November, 2014," Helms said.

Natural Gas pipeline expansion project 'on track'

Oct 30, 2017

MDU Resources Group says it is making progress on its project to build a natural gas pipeline from the existing pipeline system near Mapleton to the Viking Gas Transmission Company pipeline near Felton, Minnesota.

It would be a 38 mile, 16-inch diameter pipeline.

"It's been demand-driven from the start," said MDU Resources spokesman Tony Spilde. "We're getting requests for more natural gas on the system."

Spilde said this project is going to enhance reliability for local distribution companies, from Bismarck to the Viking system near Felton.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota's Industrial Commission has given Marathon Oil permission to flare natural gas from 21 oil wells in Dunn County.

The wells are close to the Bear Creek natural gas processing plant. But state Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms said the 21 are older wells, and they produce hydrogen sulfide.

"The Bear Creek plant is not designed to process hydrogen sulfide," Helms told the Commission. "It's designed to process sweet Bakken gas."

Helms said if the wells are going to continue to safely produce crude, the gas needs to be flared.

Less oil moving by rail from the Bakken

Oct 25, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

As the number of barrels of Bakken crude oil shipped by pipeline increases, the number of rail loading facilities in western North Dakota has dropped.

"During the height of the crude by rail activity in North Dakota, we had north of 20 rail loading facilities scattered throughout North Dakota," said North Dakota Pipeline Authority director Justin Kringstad. "now it's consolidated to around 12 facilities that are still loading crude oil, primarily on trains headed to the west coast, and some to the east coast."

AARP has filed with the Public Service Commission to formally intervene in the latest Montana Dakota Utilities Company’s natural gas rate increase.

"This is the third natural gas rate increase for MDU in the last 4 years," said AARP state president Josh Askvig.

MDU is asking to raise its rates by 5.4 percent. That would mean $5.9 million. MDU will do this by raising the fixed rate cost – the cost charged just to bring the natural gas to the home. It would bring that cost to $22.58 a month. Askvig said four years ago, the charge was $9 a month.

Oil wells transfer to new Bakken operators

Oct 10, 2017
Amy Sisk / Prairie Public

North Dakota officials have noticed an uptick in the number of oil wells transferring ownership in the Bakken.

Nearly 700 wells are in the process of being transferred from longtime North Dakota operators to new ones, mineral resources director Lynn Helms said Tuesday in his department’s monthly oil and gas briefing.That number’s unusual given that, recently, only 100 wells were transferred in a typical month.

“Companies have re-evaluated their business model and decided to focus on an area where they’re having greater success,”  Helms said.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Public Service Commissioners say they may have to ask the 2019 Legislature for more staff to inspect natural gas pipelines.

Right now, the state has 1 and ½ positions for that inspection.

Commissioner Brian Kroshus said the concern is the federal requirement of the number of inspection days.

"By the year 2020, we will have to demonstrate that we will be able to conduct 210 inspection days in the field," Kroshus said. "We're currently at 136."

Kroshus said the main reason for more inspection days is a growing natural gas infrastructure.

Amy Sisk / Prairie Public

State officials have noticed a worrisome trend the past few months in the oil fields on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation: The amount of natural gas that’s flared at oil well sites is rising.

Up until this spring, flaring on the reservation was in line with the rest of North Dakota’s oil patch.

“But beginning in March or April we started to see them fall seriously behind,” said Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms at his monthly press briefing on oil and gas production.

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.

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