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North Dakota, budget projections
North Dakota pumpjacks. Image: Geof Wilson via Flickr

Top 5 Bakken stories of the week – February 28 – March 5

Another week gone by, another slurry of energy news thrown into the ocean of media… and another weekly recap of what’s happening in the Bakken and beyond.

The markets were, for the most part, stable this week. Oil prices held steady, but the energy industry is still hurting (and feeling a different kind of loss) while the 2016 presidential race marches on. If the Koch Brothers have any say, though, Donald Trump will not be a candidate.

But don’t let the Donald’s hullabaloo distract you from what’s happening locally: oil prices aren’t just impacting the oil and gas companies. As a result of decreased oil tax revenues, some communities will no longer receive oil impact funding from North Dakota. The future of business in Williston, meanwhile, is holding steady and even looking bright.

It’s been a busy week. As result we even had to throw in a two-for-one. Check out the list below to get your “two-fer” and catch up on the week in energy:

5. Fund suspended for communities affected by oil development

Due to the oil price and drilling decline, North Dakota communities impacted by oil and gas development will not be receiving financial assistance from the state. (Image: A.G. McQuillan via Flickr)

Due to the oil price and drilling decline, North Dakota communities impacted by oil and gas development will not be receiving financial assistance from the state. (Image: A.G. McQuillan via Flickr)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A program aimed at helping North Dakota communities deal with the effects of energy development has been suspended due to slumping oil activity.

North Dakota’s Board of University and School Lands also voted Thursday to put on hold millions of dollars of projects that have receive grants but work hasn’t started.

Follow this link to read more about how this might impact a community near you.

4. Williston is still open for business despite oil price downturn

In the heart of the oil patch, the economy in Williston, North Dakota is maintaining a healthy vigor despite the oil price and drilling downturn.

In the heart of the oil patch, the economy in Williston, North Dakota is maintaining a healthy vigor despite the oil price and drilling downturn.

Over the past several years, the city of Williston has had quite a story to tell. We became the fastest growing small city in the Nation. We tripled the size of our population. Tripled the size of our land mass and a single word called the “Bakken” propelled this community onto a global stage.

The past 15-months have been a different scenario as crude oil prices have plummeted to record lows. We are seeing layoffs. The restaurant sector we worked so hard to build is now seeing 30 percent reduction in business activity. Hotel occupancy hovers around the 30th percentile. Apartment vacancy rates are reaching upwards of 40 percent.

To read the rest of this letter from Shawn Wenko, Executive Director of Williston Economic Development, click here.

3. Chesapeake Energy ex-CEO Aubrey McClendon indicted AND Ex-Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon dies in crash

FILE - In this Wednesday, June 6, 2012, file photo, Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon attends Game 6 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals, in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City police say McClendon, a natural gas industry titan who was indicted on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, by a federal grand jury for allegedly conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma, was killed Wednesday in a fiery single-car crash in Oklahoma City. A part-owner of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, McClendon stepped down in 2013 at Chesapeake and founded American Energy Partners, where he was chairman and CEO. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

In this Wednesday, June 6, 2012, file photo, Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon attends Game 6 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals, in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City police say McClendon, a natural gas industry titan who was indicted on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, by a federal grand jury for allegedly conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma, was killed Wednesday in a fiery single-car crash in Oklahoma City.

Tuesday: Aubrey McClendon, the former chief executive of Chesapeake Energy Corp., was indicted Tuesday on a charge of conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.

The Department of Justice said in a statement that McClendon is suspected of orchestrating a scheme between two large energy companies, which are not named in the indictment, from December 2007 to March 2012. The companies would decide ahead of time who would win bids, with the winner then allocating an interest in the leases to the other company, according to the statement.

Wednesday: Aubrey McClendon, a natural gas industry titan, was killed in a fiery single-vehicle crash in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, a day after he was indicted on a charge of conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.

Police Sgt. Ashley Peters said 56-year-old McClendon, also a part-owner of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, was the only occupant in the sport utility vehicle when it slammed into a concrete bridge pillar shortly after 9 a.m.

Click here to read more about Aubrey McClendon’s grand jury indictment.

Click here to learn more about the death of Aubrey McClendon, a U.S. shale industry pioneer. 

2. Koch Brothers – Trump’s record is unacceptable

the republican party is overwhelmingly against a donald trump nomination and the koch brothers will spend their millions making sure it doesn't happen

Donald Trump vs. Charles and David Koch. (Image: DonkeyHotey via Flickr)

Being prepared is critical to surviving unnatural calamities, and the Republican Party is beginning to plan for the worst – Donald Trump winning the presidential bid.

Last week, during private meetings in Washington D.C. hosted by the Koch brothers, the party discussed what to do if and when Trump wins the nomination. As reported by the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been busy preparing senators for this possibility and has been quoted as saying the party will “drop him like a hot rock.”

Perhaps the most telling news to come from the Koch-hosted meeting was the brothers’ steadfast opposition to anything Trump. Charles G. and David H. Koch own an 84 percent stake in Koch Industries, the second-largest privately owned company in the U.S.

To read more and Donald Trump and the Koch Brother’s disapproval, click here.

1. Owner of Central Montana coal mine says it’s worth nothing

coal excavators CC0

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A central Montana coal mine that’s seen layoffs, production cuts and permitting troubles faces more uncertainty after one of its co-owners reported taking a $362 million writedown on the 240-worker operation.

Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy in 2015 reduced to zero the value of its stake in Signal Peak Energy’s Bull Mountain Mine, according to a transcript of a company conference call with analysts.

FirstEnergy cited depressed coal markets, which have curbed domestic and international demand for the fuel. The company has a one-third share in the underground mine south of Roundup.

To read more about how Montana’s coal industry is hurting, click here.

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