More good stuff on Bakken – 1/7


(photo by Melisa Ulvog)

 Still lots of great stuff going on in the Bakken. Flaring is way down.

How would you cope with the population of your city increasing to ten times larger than it was a decade ago?

12/25 – Dickinson Press – Forward on flaring? Regulators say state has made progress; other claim it’s not enough – More info on flaring regs I’ve not seen before. Required flaring limits:

  • 26% – 10/1/2014
  • 23% – 1/1/15
  • 15% – 1/1/16
  • 10% – 10/1/20

A well may run at maximum production for the first 90 days of operation. After that it must meet the above restrictions. If gas flared from an individual well is between the above limits and 40%, production of the well is limited to 200 barrels per day (i.e. down to 60% capture) If a well flares more than 40% (i.e. capture less than 60%) then production is limited to 100 barrels per day.

Article says two biggest obstacles for further reductions in flaring are getting processing plants on-line and getting landowner permission to allow pipelines to cross their land.

12/15 – AP via Bismarck Tribune – North Dakota airports break record for November passengers – Boardings at commercial airports during November increased by 12% over prior year. Rapid growth in passengers is spread across the state, not just limited to Bakken area.

12/22 – Bismarck Tribune – Oil patch towns may get chance to catch up with housing, infrastructure demands – A slow down in drilling would allow the towns in western North Dakota to catch up with the huge infrastructure needs. The mayor of Watford City says the housing needs in the town are not sufficient to support the number of permanent jobs that will be in the area. Current housing stock is 2,000 units. Needed stock to house permanent workers is 7,000.

Translation: there isn’t enough housing stock in place today to house the people who will be around for the next decade or two servicing the wells that are already in place. In other words, more housing would still be needed in 100% of the drilling stopped in the next year.

Mayor of Williston makes the same point, with a $75 million backlog of shovel-ready infrastructure work needed. If I read the article correctly, that doesn’t include a new water treatment plant.

My guess is that if all drilling stopped this afternoon, Williston would still need to build out a lot of capacity to take care of the permanent jobs that are in place this morning.

There is a lot of catching up to do. Construction will continue for years if drilling stopped today.

12/30 – McKenzie County Farmer – As I see it – Editor Neal Shipman points out there is massive construction all over Watford City. In 2014, there were four new hotels, a child care facility with 190 capacity, new water tower, new sewage treatment and a lot of housing that was completed. Article quantifies around $215M of construction in planning with multiple projects not quantified. Hundreds of millions of road improvements planned for the area.

Here is what’s driving the massive construction:

  • 1,450 – population of Watford City 5 or 6 years ago
  • 10,000 – estimated city population today
  • 15k to 20K – guess at population a few years out

How would you cope?

How would your city handle increasing in population by a factor of 7 in half a decade with another 50% or 100% growth expected in the next few years?

To put that in terms I can grasp, I thought of Rapid City, S.D.  When I lived there in the ’80s, it was about 50K in population. Imagine Rapid City at 50K five years ago. Now picture it has 350K people living there today. Now picture trying to figure out how to cope with growing to between 500K and 700K people in the next 5 or 8 years. Long term expectations are the population will stabilize somewhere between 350K and 500K but nobody knows.

Okay. Now how do you deal with that? Tell me how you would build out the water, sewer, housing, hotels, retail shopping, grocery shopping, hospitals, doctors offices, drug stores, entertainment, apartment buildings, police & fire protection, primary & secondary education, entertainment, and roads to support the community?

That’s what every city in western North Dakota is dealing with.

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