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Controlling growth: Fill vacant developments before starting new ones, some city officials say

Controlling growth: Fill vacant developments before starting new ones, some city officials say

DICKINSON, N.D. -- When Dickinson Planning and Zoning commissioners ended a debate last week in a tie vote over a rezoning petition from the developers of the proposed Barons Vista subdivision, concerns were not so much around what might be developed there, but when it might be developed, if ever.


North Dakota Industrial Commission grants exception to flaring goals

Members ask for new policy when companies don’t meet targets
BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Industrial Commission approved Wednesday an exception from its flaring goals but directed state regulators to draft a policy to address such scenarios in the future. The three commissioners voted unanimously to grant an exception to Hess Corp. for failing to meet the gas capture goals when unexpected delays occurred during an expansion project.

ND LEGISLATURE: House votes to send bigger share of oil production tax revenue back to political subdivisions

BISMARCK, N.D. – House lawmakers voted Thursday to send a greater share of oil production tax revenue back to the state’s top crude-producing counties, though not to the extent that the governor and some western leaders have proposed. House Bill 1176, widely expected to be the most debated bill of the session, passed by a vote of 70-18, with six members absent or not voting.

State leaders await new oil requirements after West Virginia explosion

Conditioning order goes into effect in April BISMARCK -- The derailment and subsequent explosion of rail cars carrying North Dakota crude oil last week has again sparked debate over oil train safety.

Lab tests show petroleum in Yellowstone River fish near Glendive spill

GLENDIVE, Mont. -- Lab tests have shown detectable levels of petroleum in the muscle of some of the fish netted in the Yellowstone River downstream from an oil pipeline that ruptured near Glendive in January, spilling an estimated 30,000 gallons. Consequently, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has continued its fish consumption advisory for the stretch of river.

Senate kills natural gas flaring bill

BISMARCK – State senators rejected a bill Thursday that would have added restrictions to further reduce natural gas flaring. Senate Bill 2287, which failed in an 11-35 vote, would have reduced the length of time a well can flare from one year to 90 days. It also would have limited the volume of natural gas that could be flared each day and removed some exemptions from the current flaring policy. Prime sponsor Sen. Jim Dotzenrod, D-Wyndmere, said the amount of natural gas that’s flared in North Dakota, most recently at 24 percent, is unreasonably high and would not be acceptable in other oil-producing states. Dotzenrod added that the technology exists to capture more of the natural gas. “I think we as a Legislature have made it easy to flare,” Dotzenrod said. Sen. Donald Schaible, R-Mott, said the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee gave the bill a do-not-pass recommendation because members felt the North Dakota Industrial Commission had already addressed the issue with its recent gas capture goals. Schaible also said committee members thought the industry was working toward reducing flaring but being held up by challenges securing pipeline easements. “We feel the policies we have are working and need more time to get the desired effect,” Schaible said. “Our restrictions would magnify the problems and create greater hardships for the industry and the state.” The goals adopted by the Industrial Commission set the allowed flaring rate at 15 percent by first quarter of 2016, 10 percent in 2020 with the potential of reaching 5 percent by the fourth quarter of 2020.

Proposed pipeline would send Bakken oil east through Canada

WILLISTON, N.D. – A proposed pipeline from the same company behind the Keystone XL would connect Bakken crude with markets now reached only by rail. TransCanada plans to seek approval for the $600 million Upland Pipeline that would carry oil from south of Williston and head north to connect with other pipelines that reach markets in eastern Canada and the eastern United States.

Five significant oil-related spills reported over weekend

Tioga brine spill attributed to ‘suspicious activity’
TIOGA, N.D. – “Suspicious activity” may be to blame for two oil-related spills reported in Williams County over the weekend that released produced water and affected at least one nearby wetland. The incidents were two of five significant spills reported Tuesday by state officials. Hess Corp. reported spills on two well sites Monday about three miles apart, both caused by opened valves, the North Dakota Department of Health said.

ND LEGISLATURE: Senate kills bill to add scrutiny on oil and gas violations

BISMARCK, N.D. – A bill that would have required North Dakota Industrial Commission members to approve settlements of oil and gas penalties failed Monday in the Senate. Senators voted 30-17 against Senate Bill 2342, that prime sponsor Sen. Tyler Axness said would have added transparency to the reductions of fines that are negotiated by the director of the Department of Mineral Resources.

North Dakota House votes to extend oil tax

BISMARCK, N.D. – House lawmakers voted 79-14 Monday to extend the oil extraction tax reduction known as the “small trigger” for two more years to entice oil companies to keep drilling despite low oil prices.

Lacking integrity: N.D. Oil and Gas division ignores EPA guidance for saltwater disposal wells

DICKINSON, N.D. -- The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources' Division of Oil and Gas has allowed saltwater-disposal wells to continue injecting fluid underground even as mechanical integrity tests -- meant to detect weaknesses in the well's construction -- have indicated leaks in parts of the wells' multiple layers of casing. A review of 449 well files and more than 2,090 mechanical integrity test reports show how state officials conditionally approve disposal wells even after they don't meet widely accepted pressure testing standards.


Montana governor wants increased pipeline inspections, pipes buried deeper under major waterways

HELENA, Mont. -- Citing the recent oil spill into the Yellowstone River near Glendive near the Montana-North Dakota border, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on Friday sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx requesting additional inspectors to do more frequent pipeline inspections. He also called for a look into the rules that require oil pipelines to be buried 4 feet beneath major waterways after two spills that leaked about 93,000 gallons of crude into the Yellowstone River in two separate incidents. Federal officials determined 4 feet was safe, but Bullock is questioning that determination.

December oil production a ‘tug of war’ in N.D.: Helms says ‘large trigger’ not likely to hit

BISMARCK – North Dakota oil production was a “tug of war” in December as production hit a record 1.2 million barrels a day but drilling began to decline, the state’s top oil regulator said Friday. Oil production increased 3.3 percent in December, according to preliminary numbers, even as declining oil prices prompted the number of drilling rigs operating in North Dakota to drop. December saw a surge in well completions as operators had end-of-year budgets to spend and 2014 production targets to hit, Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, said in his monthly update.

Senators reject bill to separate promotion, regulation of oil industry

BISMARCK – Senators voted 32-15 Friday against a bill that would have separated the North Dakota Industrial Commission’s duties to promote and regulate oil development. The vote fell along party lines, with Republicans voting to reject the bill that would have shifted some duties of the Industrial Commission to the Department of Commerce. Sen. Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks, the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 2366, offered an amendment that would have simply removed the word “promotion” from the job description of the Department of Mineral Resources.

BNSF announces $326 million North Dakota capital program

BNSF announces $326 million North Dakota capital program

Dickinson among several subdivisions to expand
DICKINSON, N.D. -- Construction to expand parts of Dickinson's railways will begin this summer as part of Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC's multimillion-dollar capital program for North Dakota in 2015. The rail company on Wednesday released specifics about its planned improvement and maintenance projects across the state totalling $326 million. BNSF had previously announced $700 million in projects in its entire northern region, including North Dakota, as part of ongoing maintenance and improvements to its network. Projects in Dickinson include the expansion of several yard tracks at BNSF's downtown terminal, as well as extending the siding along the Dickinson subdivision between Mandan and Glendive, Mont.

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