oil

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

Hurricane Harvey is wreaking havoc on oil operations in the Gulf Coast, and even states far from the storm’s path are feeling its impact on the energy industry.

The hurricane has shuttered 22 percent of the nation’s refining capacity as Gulf refineries halt operations due to damage and flooding.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

When a company enters oil and gas country, it wants to know there’s enough oil and gas in the ground that business will be robust for a long time.

One way it gets that assurance? An estimate from the U.S. Geological Survey showing how much oil and gas remains untapped.

Officials in North Dakota are pushing the agency do this for its Bakken and Three Forks formations.

Back in 2008 the USGS did a study in the Bakken, concluding the shale play contained 3.7 billion barrels of oil available for operators to extract.

Lightning And Oil Country: A Volatile Mix

Aug 28, 2017
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

Dozens of times during the summer as the rain picks up here on the prairie, suddenly, there’s a flash.

“You can be sitting there watching it, enjoying the night and all the sudden, boom!” said Kyle Chernenko, a resident of Grassy Butte.

Chernenko has watched these prairie thunderstorms his whole life from his home in North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch. He’s the volunteer fire chief in this small town.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

The company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline has filed a federal lawsuit against Greenpeace and other groups it claims conspired against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Energy Transfer Partners says these groups spread false information about the company and pipeline project to raise donations. The pipeline developer claims they planted and funded "eco-terrorists."

Dakota Access Pipeline Upends Oil Transport

Aug 14, 2017
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

After months of protest, legal wrangling and stalled construction, the Dakota Access Pipeline is up and running -- and transforming how oil leaves North Dakota.

The pipeline became operational June 1, offering North Dakota for the first time more than enough room to carry its oil to market on pipelines.

New data released by the state show the line’s impact: Pipelines now transport more than three-quarters of North Dakota’s oil.

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.

Battle Brews Over Methane Leaks

Aug 10, 2017
Tim Evanson / Flickr

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency visited North Dakota this week on a 25-state listening tour, amid an effort by the Trump administration to roll back a host of environmental regulations.

The latest battle is over leaks of methane and other invisible gases, which sometimes escape from the equipment that’s supposed to contain them at oil and gas well sites.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is working to halt Obama-era rules requiring stricter controls at those well sites.

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.

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