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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.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A subsidiary of MDU Resources, In. continues to work on a project to bring more natural gas to eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.

It’s called the Valley Expansion project. WBI would build a 38 mile pipeline to connect the Viking Gas Transmission Company’s pipeline in Felton, Minnesota to the existing Williston Basin pipeline near Mapleton.

Filling In The Natural Gas Gaps

Apr 7, 2017
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

With the fracking boom ushering in cheap natural gas prices nationwide, nearly 40 states have adopted or are considering new legislation to expand gas service.

Big gaps exist in rural America where natural gas does not reach. These areas rely heavily on propane, with 12 million homes that use it for heating.

One North Dakota town is looking to make the switch, pushing the Legislature for flexibility to craft its own plan to bring in natural gas service.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A natural gas company has paid a $2500 fine for a violation of pipeline safety laws.

Great Plains Natural Gas Company failed to follow a federal rule that says the pipeline must be checked for leaks every 15 months. The line in question runs from Hankinson to Fairmount.

Public Service Commission staff found the violation. Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said PSC pipeline inspectors work hand in hand with federal authorities to do these inspections.

Natural gas flaring ticks upward

Jul 18, 2016
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The flaring of natural gas spiked upward in May.

It’s back up to 11-and-a-half percent.

"There are a couple of reasons," said State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms. "Natural gas production went up, and there was no additional processing or gathering capacity ready to take that up."

Production rose to 1,643,522 MCF per day, from April's 1,616,769 MCF per day.

Helms said the Hess Tioga gas plant ran only at 74 percent of capacity. He said that’s because of a delay in a project that would bring natural gas from south of Lake Sakakawea to that plant.

Western energy states see unemployment jump

Jun 21, 2016

Several western states whose economies depend heavily on the fossil fuel industry have seen major jumps in unemployment. Inside Energy’s Amy Sisk has more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Colorado’s unemployment rate went up significantly in May. Over the past year, rates in Wyoming and North Dakota grew faster than any other state. Plummeting prices for coal, oil and natural gas hit workers hard. In Wyoming.

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