Dear readers, happy Friday! Our Top 5 recap took last week off to observe the Easter holiday, but it’s back! To make up for lost time (drum roll, please), we present to you… The Top 8 Bakken News Stories of The Past Two Weeks! Why eight, you ask? Why not, we say. Check out the list below to see what stories engaged our audience the most over the past two weeks. Enjoy!
8. Federal oil, gas leases stall over bird concerns in US West
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Concerns over a bird that ranges across the American West continue to delay federal oil and gas lease sales, five months after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell proclaimed the Obama administration had found a way to balance drilling and conservation.
The Interior Department said it will defer the sale of almost 60,000 acres of leases that were nominated by companies in eastern Montana as the agency works on new policies for greater sage grouse.
7. Boom or bust, courts remain busy in North Dakota oil patch
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The Bakken oil boom was in full throttle when a North Dakota couple leased rights to water on their property so it could be used in hydraulic fracturing, the process of extracting sweet crude from the ground. Then, energy prices began to plummet.
The result, Jeffery and Shelley Schmidt say, is they were stiffed on about $90,000 in royalty payments and left on the hook to subcontractors for about $180,000. The Schmidts have filed a lawsuit in state court in an effort to recoup their losses.
6. The Latest: Owner of canceled Glacier Park oil lease still wants to drill
The federal government is refunding a Louisiana company $31,235 after canceling a Montana oil and gas lease it’s been seeking to develop for more than 33 years.
The head of the law firm representing Solenex LLC of Baton Rouge says the 6,200-acre lease is worth far more.
William Perry Pendley with the Mountain States Legal Foundation says the company will continue its court fight to drill on the site in the Badger-Two Medicine wilderness.
5. Half of continental U.S. oil production comes from new wells
About half of the oil produced in the continental United States last year came from wells drilled after January 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The data provides insight into the importance of short-cycle shale production and advances in oil industry technologies.
Many companies are targeting short-cycle investments, lower-cost projects that take months, rather than years, to come online.
4. US rig count drops 12 this week to all-time low of 464
HOUSTON (AP) — The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. dropped 12 this week to 464, a record low amid continuing price woes in the energy industry.
A year ago, 1,048 rigs were active.
Houston-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Thursday 372 rigs sought oil and 92 explored for natural gas.
3. Decision to end Williston crew camps might prompt lawsuit
WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — A company that provides workforce housing in the western North Dakota oil patch says it will sue to continue operating crew camps in Williston.
The City Commission late last year set a July 1 deadline for the camps to shut down, and commissioners earlier this month rejected a compromise proposal to instead phase out the camps over several years. Target Logistics Regional Manager Travis Kelley told The Bismarck Tribune and the Williston Herald that oil field workers shouldn’t be forced into hotels that don’t serve meals or into apartments they don’t need most of the time, and that legal action is imminent.
2. US to consider sharp hike in royalties on coal
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Royalty rates on coal extracted from massive strip mines on public lands could increase 50 percent under a pending overhaul of a U.S. government program that critics say contributes to climate change, documents released Thursday show.
The royalty hike was contained in an Interior Department notice providing the first outlines of a planned three-year evaluation of the government’s sale of coal from public lands, primarily in the West.
1. Dickinson pump jack denied after residents complain
Maybe if the company had proposed to make the pump jack look like an actual horsehead their neighbors wouldn’t have complained.
This week just outside Dickinson, working on a newly acquired oil well, a company replaced the existing underground pump with an above-ground pump jack. On Tuesday, after numerous complaints from nearby residents, it was deemed “an eyesore and a safety hazard that diminishes their property values,” reports the Bismarck Tribune.
Bonus – 2016 Williston Basin Petroleum Conference – Moving the Bakken Forward
Oil prices were hovering around $100 per barrel the last time the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference was hosted in Bismarck, North Dakota in 2014.
The conference alternates between Saskatchewan and Bismarck each year, and in 2014 its attendees were sent back into the oil patch with the tagline “The best is yet to come.” Fast forward to 2016, over a year into the oil price collapse, and the Bakken remains alive and well.