Big news in the Bakken oil patch comes and goes, but one of the biggest news stories from this week comes not from North Dakota, but from the state of Iowa. The proposed Dakota Access pipeline has had a long and tedious path to approval, but last week Iowa, the last state to issue a construction permit, gave the project the needed go ahead.
While Bakken crude won’t be flowing through a new pipeline quite yet, an oil spill did recently put Williston’s drinking water at risk. Meanwhile, Chevron is moving to Texas and industry leaders are trying to make sure rotational crews can keep moving into Williston crew camps. Catch up on last week with the highlight reel below (make it to the end to collect your bonus story about the Soviet Union’s experimental Cold War drilling project). Enjoy!
5. Chevron shifts focus to Texas shale
Chevron plans to focus on shorter-cycle investments in West Texas shale plays after its larger, long-term investments come into production this year.
By the end of the decade, Chevron believes it can nearly triple its oil production in the Permian Basin byincreasing its rig count from seven to 14.
“Don’t be surprised if by the middle of the next decade 20 to 25 percent of our production is in this short-cycle shale and tight activity,” Chairman and CEO John Watson said in an annual investors update.
4. Testing to determine if spill tainted ND drinking water
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Regulators are monitoring tests to determine if an oil field spill near Williston has tainted drinking water sources in the area, the North Dakota Department of Health said Tuesday.
Denver-based Zavanna LLC told regulators a faulty valve caused a spill of more than 114,000 gallons of oily saltwater at a well site about 4 miles northeast of Williston on Sunday.
State environmental scientist Bill Suess said crews will bore holes in the area to see if the spill reached groundwater supplies. Some private drinking water wells also are being tested as a precaution, he said.
3. Iowa regulators approve Bakken pipeline permit
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The last state permit needed for a pipeline that will carry a half-million barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota to Illinois was approved Thursday by Iowa utilities regulators, who also gave the Texas-based company authority to use eminent domain for land that property owners are unwilling to voluntarily provide.
The Iowa Utilities Board voted unanimously to approve a hazardous pipeline permit for the Dakota Access pipeline, called Bakken pipeline because it will stretch 346 miles from Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois, crossing through 18 Iowa counties and 1,300 parcels of land.
2. EIA forecasts short-term energy output
The U.S. Energy Information Administration released its short-term energy outlook Tuesday. The report forecasts oil and natural gas production for the next two years.
North Sea Brent crude oil prices averaged $32 per barrel, a $1 increase from January prices. Brent crude prices are predicted to average $34 in 2016 and $40 in 2017. The forecast reflects higher –than-expected oil production in a low-price environment.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices are expected to average the same as Brent, however, there is uncertainty in the price outlook.
1. Oil industry rallies in defense of Bakken crew camps
The oil industry and the city of Williston are still at odds over temporary worker housing, and it seems neither party is willing to back away from City Ordinance 1038.
Last week the Williston City Commission voted against a compromise which would have allowed some temporary worker housing facilities to remain open. The proposed compromise would have reduced the number of temporary worker beds in the city and would reduce the population in 1-mile extraterritorial by about half by 2017.
“Crew camps reduce pressure on local housing, keeping it affordable and available for permanent residents while meeting specific needs of temporary oil and gas employees,” said Target Logistics Regional Vice President Travis Kelley in a statement.
Bonus – Shaking hands with the devil – The deepest hole ever drilled
During the Cold War, while the Space Race pitted the Soviet Union against the United States to conquer the skies, the two countries were also vying to drill as deep as possible into the earth.
The USSR embarked on drilling a hole in 1970 on the Kola Peninsula located east of Finland. By 1983 the project, named the Kola Superdeep Borehole, had reached a depth of 12,000 meters (39,000 feet).
The project was then halted for a year to celebrate the milestone achievement. When drilling resumed, the drill went 66 further meters until a 5,000-meter section of drill string (interconnected lengths of pipe) twisted off and was left in the hole.