Twists and turns in North Dakota energy

Photo by James Ulvog.
Photo by James Ulvog.

There is another hint of a whiff in the air that completion work in North Dakota may be picking up.

Federal injunction postpones shutting down all the crew camps within reach of the Williston City Commissioners. Hint of pushback from commissioners since the crew camps are now unlicensed.

Flaring in North Dakota has dropped dramatically in the last two years.

(Have you noticed Amy Dalrymple is the author of a large portion of the interesting reporting in North Dakota?)

6/25 – Amy Dalrymple of Forum News Service at Bismarck Tribune – Fracking jobs show signs of life in Bakken The signs of life are very small, but visible.

Job Service of North Dakota is reporting some new jobs getting listed for work related to well completion: fracking, workover rigs, and trucking.

Manager of the office isn’t seeing drilling jobs being listed yet.

Other reports say some companies are calling previously laid off fracking workers asking some to come back to work.

Halliburton is running a job fair next week.

Not a lot of life, but a pulse at least.

6/21 – Amy Dalrymple of Forum News Service at Bismarck Tribune – Man camps get a win in quest to stay open in Williston – U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland issued a preliminary injunction ordering Williston not to enforce its ban on crew camps. He concluded the crew camp owners raised several objections which are ‘likely to prevail’ at trial. The main issue is the city has a rule requiring a 4-1 supermajority if protests are raised by 20% or more of the businesses that are affected. In the meetings when the ordinance was approved the commissioners knew a lot of crew camp operators objected but the commissioners did not know whether the proportion was over or under 20%. They didn’t bother to do the math.

Judge Hovland called it a “rush to judgment.”

That means it is likely that the ordinance is not valid.

Lessons learned:

  • First, government agencies have to follow their own rules.
  • Second, don’t ignore procedural questions just because you want to slam rules through.

Judge Hovland also presided over the trial of Keith Graves.

6/23 – Amy Dalrymple at Dickinson press – Judge’s ruling confuses Williston crew camp legality – An unintended consequence of the ruling above is that leaves the crew camps without permits. The city is pointing out that the same rule the judge put on hold allowed the crew camp to continue operating until July 1.

Without the law being in effect the camps are today operating without a permit. That gives the city the right to shut them all down this afternoon. The mayor says that city isn’t going to do that.

6/16 – U.S. Energy Information Administration at – Natural gas flaring in North Dakota has declined sharply since 2014 – The percentage of natural gas flared has dropped from 36% of all gas produced in January 2014 to 10% in March 2016.

The June 2016 Director’s Cut reports the portion of gas flared dropped further to 9.2% in April 2016. That report also says the flare rate was 35% back in September 2011.

That is a remarkable improvement in a short period of time. Having time to build out pipelines and get refining capacity on-line has paid off nicely.

Here is something else I didn’t know (yeah, yeah, the list of stuff I don’t know is astounding long. Cutting back the gargantuan size of that list is why I blog, by the way).

The EIA article says that after a year of production, a well must be capped (in other words shut down) if it isn’t tied into a natural gas gathering line, the well consumes at least 75% of the gas produced in an electric generator on site, or gets permission to reduce flaring some other way.

Mandatory targets for flaring from the NDIC:

  • 23% – first quarter 2016
  • 20% – April 2016
  • 15% – November 2016
  • 12% – November 2018
  • 9% – November 2020

2 thoughts on “Twists and turns in North Dakota energy”

    1. Hi Bruce:

      Since I started blogging, I’ve been watching the names on articles and reports that interest me. Frequently I will read an article merely because of the byline. Three examples would include Ms. Dalrymple, Daniel Yergin, and you. I have learned tremendously from reading The Million Dollar Way for the last several years.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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