Amy Dalrymple / Bismarck Tribune
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Industrial Commission is eight months behind in publishing meeting minutes, and it's not the first time for such a delay. Minutes for the commission that regulates oil and gas development, the Bank of North Dakota, the State Mill and Elevator and other entities have not been updated since last July. Executive Director Karlene Fine said her assistant has been out for medical reasons for six months, which contributed to the delay.
BISMARCK—As Gov. Doug Burgum outlines plans to reinvent North Dakota's budgeting process, Democrats are calling for a bipartisan commission to be involved. Burgum announced this week he's asking most state agencies to identify spending cuts of 5 to 10 percent for the next two-year budget cycle and reduce state employees by 5 percent. The Republican governor said Friday, April 20, he wants to get away from a traditional budget process that involves incremental adjustments and, instead, focus on finding efficiencies and improving outcomes.
BISMARCK—North Dakota regulators are keeping current benchmarks for reducing wasteful flaring of excess natural gas but are giving industry more flexibility to comply. The North Dakota Industrial Commission voted unanimously Tuesday, April 17, to adopt changes to the gas capture policy, many of which were recommended by an industry task force. "They're saying they will get to 88 percent by Nov. 1," said Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources.
BISMARCK — North Dakota's oil industry is advocating for the state to keep its current gas capture targets but make some tweaks to the policy that regulates natural gas flaring. A North Dakota Petroleum Council task force studying ways to reduce flaring and spur infrastructure development recently completed its work and delivered recommendations to state regulators. The North Dakota Industrial Commission is set to discuss the recommendations on Tuesday, April 17, and consider revising the gas capture policy.
BISMARCK—Expansion of the Oneok Bear Creek natural gas processing plant north of Killdeer, a project that aims to reduce natural gas flaring, was approved Wednesday, April 11, by the North Dakota Public Service Commission. The Dunn County plant has been operational since fall of 2016, processing 80 million cubic feet per day of natural gas. Now Oneok plans to expand the capacity to 175 million cubic feet per day.
BISMARCK—About $1.6 million will be dedicated this year to stabilize collapsing underground coal mines in central and western North Dakota, preventing sinkholes from developing on roadways. Another $300,000 reclamation project will eliminate dangerous highwalls at two abandoned surface coal mines in Morton County. The dollars administered by the North Dakota Public Service Commission come from the Abandoned Mine Land program, funded through a federal tax on coal that is distributed to states.
BISMARCK—Political rivals Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer shared a stage Thursday at the Lignite Energy Council annual meeting, each touting their backgrounds in representing North Dakota's coal industry. The discussion, which also featured Sen. John Hoeven, was not a debate or a campaign event, but Heitkamp and Cramer each highlighted their experiences at the state and federal levels to advocate for coal.
BISMARCK—XTO Energy proposes to develop more than 26,000 acres near Lake Sakakawea as one large drilling unit, a plan the company says will allow oil wells to be farther away from the lake. Company representatives said Wednesday, April 4, that developing the oil resources as one large unit rather than smaller individual units will allow more oil to be recovered while reducing impacts to the sensitive terrain.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota Oil and Gas Division has plugged a saltwater disposal well west of Dickinson that was the site of environmental violations and a lengthy federal investigation. Director of Mineral Resources Lynn Helms said Tuesday, April 3, the work to plug the well formerly owned by Halek Operating was completed at the end of February with reclamation work expected to begin this spring. Regulators ordered the well site to be shut down in early 2012 because it was not in compliance with federal rules and put drinking water sources at risk.
BISMARCK—A North Dakota state agency that claims some oil companies have improperly taken deductions from oil and gas royalty payments is defending itself against two lawsuits that will be closely watched by the industry. Continental Resources, one of several companies the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands says has underpaid royalties to the state, is challenging the department and the Board of University and School Lands in McKenzie County District Court.