North Dakota

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.

Peter Schickele Talks of His Days in Fargo

Jul 14, 2017

In the Spring of 2017, The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony presented the North Dakota premiere of "Concerto for Simply Grand Piano", a new commission by composer Peter Schickele in his humorous mode.  Schickele won two Grammy awards for his comedic classical music recordings by "P.D.Q. Bach".  He came to Fargo for the occasion, and read to an appreciative audience (that included many old friends) a memoir of his years in the town.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

 

 

If the coal industry is to survive, its savior may be something often touted by President Donald Trump when he talks energy.

“We’re going to have clean coal, really clean coal,” he said earlier this year in announcing an executive order to roll back the emission-targeting Clean Power Plan.

Judge's Order Poses Uncertain Future For Pipeline

Jun 15, 2017
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

After a year of protests and controversy, oil began flowing through the 1,200-mile Dakota Access pipeline earlier this month. But the pipeline’s ultimate fate is now uncertain after a federal judge issued a ruling on Wednesday that challenges parts of the environmental review completed before the pipeline was permitted.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

There’s a sense of excitement taking over the Bakken oil patch, like at the M&H gas station in Williston.

Over the last year, it was pretty quiet for store manager Angela Neuman.

“Now, there’s a constant rush at some point or another during the day,” she said. “You notice more cars, you notice more fuel, you notice your fuel deliveries are more.”

She’s having to place more orders for her two most popular items: cigarettes and chewing tobacco.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will continue curbing oil output through March 2018, opening the door for more production in the United States.

 

Late last year, OPEC -- along with Russia -- agreed to cut production. 

The cartel wanted to boost oil prices amid an oversupply of crude on the global market. 

But OPEC's cuts gave the United States an opportunity to fill in the gap. Oil production here soared and prices have moved up, but more slowly than anticipated. 

In North Dakota, Will Wind Keep The Lights On?

May 16, 2017
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

Steven Somsen’s farm has looked the same his entire life -- it’s flat, with wheat and soybeans that will soon grow as far as the eye can see.

But the 61-year-old’s view changed last year.

“Those are the closest ones to us, but they’re not our towers,” he said, pointing to several nearby wind turbines. “That’s the neighbors’. Ours are way, way off in there.”

One hundred wind turbines dot the farmland around his rural community of Courtenay in eastern North Dakota. Somsen has three on his land.

Amy SIsk / Inside Energy

With Donald Trump as president, North Dakota’s oil patch got its wish: a permit to complete the massive Dakota Access Pipeline.

The easement to complete construction under the Missouri River was signed Wednesday. With that permit in hand, the 1,200-mile pipeline could carry Bakken crude to market in Illinois in as little as 80 days.

But the pipeline faces one final hurdle: a legal challenge from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies next to the pipeline route.

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