Land Air Water Stewart

January 24, 2020 -- Keeping the Lights On

Steam from the stacks at the Coal Creek Station lignite-fired coal plant rises straight up on a nearly windless morning this week, generating electricity while wind farms nearby sit idle.

WDEA to Develop TENORM Study
The Executive Committee of the Western Dakota Energy Association approved a contract this week with AE2S Nexus to help western communities determine the amount of current and future low level radioactive waste produced by oilfield operations and how best to dispose of the material.
TENORM - technically-enhanced naturally occuring radioactive material - is created when materials removed from the earth are concentrated through industrial processes. TENORM in the oil industry is typically found in filter socks, tank bottom sludge, and scale that forms inside well pipes and equipment. 
Williams County recently rejected an application for a landfill north of Williston that would have disposed of the waste generated in North Dakota out of concerns that additional landfills may be needed in the future, and if any failed the county would become liable for dealing with the waste disposal facility. The county commission reached out to WDEA, which proposed a regional study to get a better handle on the issue.
The scope of work as proposed by AE2S and principal investigator Brent Bogar will include:

Gathering information on current production of materials (amount and locations);
Forecasting future production based on state forecasts of drilling activity;
Outlining permitting process for landfill facilities that accept materials at state and local level;
Producing educational materials including presentations, infographics and brochures for use by the association and its members;
Assisting in developing outreach program with members and industry;
Working with members of the association in developing review process for siting; and
Working with industry and state regulators to ensure data validity.

The contract provides that the work will be completed by September 30, but Bogar said he expects the study will be done before that date.
The Williams County TENORM facility was proposed by Secure Energy Services. Secure's General Manager Kurt Rhea provided an overview of the issue at a meeting last month (see December 20 newsletter). Rhea stressed that radioactivity levels in the material are extremely low, pointing out that other commonly used products such as kitty litter and coffee grounds have similar levels of radioactivity.
Click here to see the North Dakota DEQ page with additional information about TENORM.

NDIC Okays Petroleum Engineer Grants
The North Dakota Industrial Commission approved two separate research grants this week totaling $2.9 million that will support the Petroleum Engineering program at the University of North Dakota.
It's the second such award provided through the Oil & Gas Research Council to help sustain the state's only Petroleum Engineering degree program. NDIC previously approved an infusion of $605,000 in 2018 that was matched by actual and in-kind contributions from several companies in the oil industry. The funds were used to provide tuition and a stipend to hire Ph. D. candidates with industry experience to assist with teaching and operating instructional laboratories.
The grants awarded this week serve a similar purpose. The commission approved $970,000 to fund the New Laboratories portion of the grant application, and $1.818 million for the Student Research/Faculty portion of the grant application. Funds provided for the student component of the grant will be spread out over the next three years.
Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, said the UND program is unique because it will have Ph. D. students doing most of the teaching under the direction of a much smaller staff of four Ph. D. professors rather than a dozen or more that a typical program would have. Helms said that means the program produces much more research than would normally be expected.
Click here to listen to Helms' comments.
Gov. Doug Burgum praised the plan, noting that new innovations are vital to Bakken oil producers.
"Clearly, research is one of the ways we're going to keep evolving the oil industry in North Dakota," Burgum said. "Without it the very nature of the whole industry is probably at risk without research."
The Petroleum Engineering program started at UND in 2010 and peaked with more than 300 students in the 2014-15 school year. But enrollment plummeted in 2015 with the downturn in oil prices because students were uncertain about future job opportunities in the field. NDIC agreed to put money into the program based on a request from Professor Vamegh Rasouli, the department chair, who said he was concerned it would collapse without an infusion of funds and industry support.
Click here to see the grant application which includes details and photographs of the program's one-of-a-kind Full-Scale Reservoir Simulated Drilling and Completions Lab.

Plan for New Capitol Entrance
Visitors arriving at the North Dakota Capitol for the 2021 legislative session will no longer have to stand in the cold waiting to enter the building. Plans to redesign the public entrance to the Capitol were presented to legislators at an interim committee meeting this week.
John Boyle, Director of OMB's Facility Management Division, told members of the Government Administration Committee that the plan was approved by the Capitol Grounds Planning Commission at a meeting in December. Boyle said the plan will enclose what is now a tunnel at the south entrance, provide closer handicapped parking spaces, and fix other areas of the Capitol that do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The project is scheduled to go out for bids in February with bids due in March. The timeline calls for completion of the work by December 1. Click here to see a presentation on the remodeling project.
An accessibility report presented to the committee identified numerous ADA compliance issues. It noted that meeting room entrances do not have Braille signage, that committee rooms with double doors are not wide enough if only one of the doors is open, that entrances have thresholds that are too high, that chairs in committee rooms are too close together and aisles are not sufficiently wide, and that many of the bathroom facilities in the building are not equipped for the needs of handicapped individuals.
Click here to see the 22-page report, which includes a photo and description of the compliance issues.

MHA Gets Grant for Energy Efficient Housing
The North Dakota Industrial Commission approved a grant this week from the state's Renewable Energy Council for development of an energy efficient housing program by the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.
The NDIC approved a grant of just under $400,000 for the tribe's Living Stone Lodge project, led by Councilman Cory Spotted Bear, MHA Councilman from the South Segment. Total cost of the project to design and build two more model homes is $918,000.
"Living Stone Lodge was pursued with the goal of designing a home that is energy efficient, and safe and suitable for any climate, while integrating our traditional Mandan building innovations (earth lodges)," said Spotted Bear in the tribe's grant application.
Jonathan Russo, Value-added Energy Business Development Manager for the state Commerce Department, explained the project at the Industrial Commission meeting.
"The objective of the project is to develop and commercialize an affordable, energy-efficient home that surpasses Energy Star ratings and can be easily built on rural Native American reservations," Russo said. "The goal is to reach a net-zero energy use and construct the home for under $100/square foot."
Gov. Doug Burgum told fellow NDIC members he watched a video of the home's construction on the tribe's website that also includes many photos of the home's interior. Burgum said he was impressed.
Click here to listen to Burgum's comments.
The Renewable Energy Council is funded through oil extraction taxes deposited in the Resources Trust Fund. The council receives up to $3 million per biennium. Click here to read more about the council. Click here to read the tribe's application.

Long X Bridge Replacement Progress Report
Ames Construction, the Minnesota-based contractor selected by the North Dakota Department of Transportation to replace the Long X bridge on Highway 85 south of Watford City, has provided the following progress report on the work:

Phase 1 dirt work has been completed, Phase 2 dirt work is approximately halfway completed and will resume in March 2020 come the spring thaw.
Drilled Shafts have been poured; Abutment 1 will be formed and poured over the drilled shafts in the spring.
Road Widening and Shoofly where the Wildlife crossing is to be constructed have been paved; construction of the Wildlife Crossing will also begin in March 2020.
All structural H-Pile for the Long X Bridge have been driven/installed; H-Pile for support of the Wildlife crossing will begin in March 2020.
Long X Bridge span 5 girders have been set; span 4 girders have been stockpiled on site, spans 1-4 will be set in the spring of 2020.
Work for winter is slowing down and wrapping up for the season. Work will recommence approximately March 1, 2020, depending on temperatures and snowfall.
The complete bridge deck will be poured after girders for spans 1-4 have been set in the spring of 2020.
The Long X Bridge will be completed and open to traffic by Winter 2020.
Existing bridge will be dismantled prior to June 2021.

Click here, here and here for additional photos of the project.

Trump Declares ND Flood Disaster
Mountrail County Included in Declaration
President Trump has granted Gov. Doug Burgum’s request for a disaster declaration for flood damage resulting from excessive September rainfall and an October storm that dumped heavy snow on a large swath of North Dakota.
The declaration covers 16 counties, all of which except Mountrail County are in eastern North Dakota. The presidential declaration unlocks public assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help cities, counties and townships pay for the costs of repairing roads and other infrastructure damaged by the storms and flooding.
“This declaration will provide critical relief to local governments that incurred substantial costs from the historic early October rain and snowstorm,” Burgum said. “We’re deeply grateful to President Trump and FEMA for granting our request and making assistance available as our local jurisdictions continue to recover from an unprecedented wet fall and prepare for potential spring flooding.”
The period from August to October was North Dakota’s wettest in 125 years of recordkeeping, and it came after spring flooding and a severe summer drought. For more information on flood resource and preparedness information, visit
Click here to see the state's detailed request for the disaster declaration.

Friendly Competition for Blood Donors
Got some extra blood this month? It’s always a critical resource and a clever promotion is underway to develop a friendly competition among energy producers and service companies in western North Dakota.
There's a reward for the employer who wins the battle. The company that gets the most donors will receive $1,000 to donate to the charity of its choice. 
It’s easy to participate. Potential donors can attend one of the scheduled events listed here or visit a blood bank in their community. 
The Battle of the Bakken Blood Drive runs from January 25 to March 6.
For more information, send an email to Tiffany Steiner or call 701-557-7742. 

Pat Bertagnolli Joins Watford City Administration
Pat Bertagnolli has joined the administrative staff at the City of Watford City serving as Rough Rider Center & Community Enhancement Director.
He will focus on the recruitment, retention, and development of the area's workforce along with overseeing the marketing, operations and community connections of the Rough Rider Center.
Bertagnolli, formerly the VP of Human Resources for MBI Energy Services, is involved in many local and statewide boards including the North Dakota Workforce Council, the North Dakota Complete Count Task Force, and the Watford City Area Chamber of Commerce. 

Write it Down on Your Calendar!
WDEA 2020 Annual Meeting
Get this date on your calendar! The Annual Meeting of the Western Dakota Energy Association will be held:
October 7-8, 2020
The Grand Williston Hotel & Conference Center
Williston, ND

State and Local Involvement Vital to the Census
State and local leaders and the citizens they represent should be involved with the 2020 Census because they will have to live with the results. The allocation of funding associated with many federal programs is based on state population figures.
Local participation occurs in two ways. First are enumerators who do the actual work for the Census Bureau; and second, local groups such as complete count committees that encourage the participation in the once-every-10-year process.
The Census Bureau is aware the response rate of households has been dropping over the past several decades. Nationally in 2000, only 74% of households responded to the initial census form sent to their homes. That rate further declined to 67% in 2010. North Dakota has seen a similar decline in response rate. In the 2000 Census, 78% of households responded, and in 2010, that number dropped to 74%.  
This means about one-fourth of households in the state had to be counted with subsequent mailings or were counted when enumerators showed up at the home, knocked on the door and asked the questions in person. Educating the public about the safety and security of the census and the impact on local funding encourages participation, and is best accomplished by individuals who understand the process and the impacts to the local area.
The Census Bureau prepared a report titled “Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Study” that used focus groups to try to understand why individuals may be reluctant to participate in the census process. The reasons cited in the report include:

Concerns about data privacy and confidentiality
Fear of repercussions
Distrust in all levels of government
A lack of efficacy (did not feel it matters)
Belief that completing the census could not benefit them personally

Other studies have found that the primary motivator of self-response across all population segments was community funding for public services.

Census Committee to hold Workshop at BSC
North Dakota's Complete Count Committee has scheduled a workshop to be held at the Bismarck State College National Energy Center of Excellence on February 3 for Census volunteers and anyone who wants to know more about the impact the decennial event has on the state of North Dakota.
Registration opens at 9:00 a.m. for the event which is scheduled to run from 10:00 - 3:00. Lunch will be included. Attendees can expect to hear:

Remarks from the Governor's Office and Commissioner Michelle Kommer
Introductions from the North Dakota State Task Force and US Federal Census
Breakout sessions by geographic region for formed and newly formed CCC's
Media panel with updates and materials for your complete count committees
Networking breaks to connect with others in your same position

Click here to see the agenda. Click here to register to get free tickets.

Williston Basin Petroleum Conference 
After a long, cold winter it will be nice to see springtime and the 2020 Williston Basin Petroleum Conference scheduled for Bismarck. Along with green grass and spring temperatures, expect to see another excellent line-up of speakers plus a sold-out trade show. 
The new conference website features opportunities to enhance the participant experience and increase exposure. Registration is now open for the event scheduled for May 19-21. Click here to register.
The website also features new information and features for exhibitors including an interactive map to allow vendors to select specific booths. Space will fill quickly so conference organizers suggest making plans now. 

Energy Impact Grants Available
The Board of University and School Lands is accepting applications for grants available to oil and gas development-impacted political subdivisions including cities, counties, school districts, and other taxing districts.
The grants are targeted to offset costs incurred for an emergency or unanticipated incident where the damage is directly related to, or impacted by, current oil and gas development. An advisory committee will review the eligible applications and make recommendations to the Land Board, which will make the final decision to award the grants.
The Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office will accept applications from eligible political subdivisions through 5:00 p.m. CST on January 31. Late applications will not be considered.
Click here for additional information or email

Quick Connect

North Dakota officials warn of contractor scam in oil patch -- Associated Press


Keystone pipeline getting ready to move in Montana -- Williston Herald


South Dakota board approves Keystone XL water permits -- Associated Press


Trump admin okays Keystone pipeline on federal land in Montana -- AP


Hearing set: ONEOK natural gas liquids pipeline in Williams County -- Bismarck Tribune


PSC not seeking more spill information for proposed DAPL expansion -- Bismarck Tribune


Dakota Access Pipeline: Moving forward with safe, clean energy transport -- Nature World News


President Trump proposes rollback of overreaching Obama-era water rules -- Associated Press


BOPSS oil/gas trade show celebrating 10 years and saying a fond farewell -- Williston Herald


Minnesota regulators to consider Line 3's revised environmental review -- Fargo Forum


API: Oil production and exports hit historic highs, benefiting U.S. consumers -- Williston Herald


Watford City new elementary school starting to take shape -- McKenzie County Farmer 


Local dignitaries help Parshall dedicate its new high school -- Mountrail County Record


Dickinson schools: Academy-model high school update, subject selection next -- KFYR-TV


McKenzie County okays project for drone assessments of gravel roads -- Williston Herald


Souris River Basin conditions show no imminent flood danger -- Minot Daily News


2020 vision: Political dates in North Dakota for the busy year ahead -- Bismarck Tribune


Tribune editorial: Improvements to state roads needs to be a priority -- Bismarck Tribune


Mercer County zoning board recommends approval of frac sand mining permit -- Beulah Beacon


NorthWestern shareholder puts company on notice for coal plant investment -- Billings Gazette


Volkswagen settlement to fund electric 'fast' charging stations across state -- Bismarck Tribune


ND attorney general bans roving con artists from operating as contractors -- Minot Daily News


Dickinson leaders worry about becoming 'news desert' after newspaper cuts -- Bismarck Tribune


Corps' $11M project could triple weather stations monitoring Missouri River -- Billings Gazette


Michael Taylor, former intern for party, is ND Democratic-NPL Party director -- Bismarck Tribune


The "green future" meets NIMBY present, renewable ambitions don't add up -- Inside Sources


America’s secret: Saltwater from oil wells contains radioactive material -- Rolling Stone Magazine


EIA: U.S. shale oil and natural gas industry growth rate expected to slow in 2020 -- Reuters


Opinion: What happens if China does buy $52 billion of US crude, coal, LNG? -- Hart Energy


Stephen Moore: Democrats’ war on fracking will cost them in battleground states -- WSJ


California chooses to be the only state that imports most of its oil needs -- Watts Up With That


EIA forecasts crude oil prices will fall in the first half of 2020, then rise through 2021 -- EIA

Factoid of the Week
The sun rose at 1:10 p.m. yesterday in Barrow, Alaska, for the first time since November 18. The city, also known as Utqiaġvik, experiences about two months of darkness in the winter. But in the summer, the sun doesn't completely set for about 82 days, from roughly May 11 until July 31. 
Source: Anchorage Daily News  

Upcoming Events

January 27
Land Board Meeting 
Bismarck, ND 
January 29
Interim Taxation Committee
January 29 - 31
NDACE County Roads Conference
February 3
We're Counting on You Census Workshop
February 4
Wiliams County 2020 Frost Law Meeting 
February 4 
Interim Judiciary Committee
February 6
PSC Hearing on Denbury CO2 Pipeline
February 8
39th Annual Chili Cook-off -- Williston Basin API
February 13
Interim Energy Development and Transmission Committee
March 6
PSC Hearing - ONEOK Bakken Pipeline
March 16
Interim Information Technology Committee
February 18
Interim Workers' Compensation Review Committee 
February 19-20
Legacy Fund Earnings Committee
Watford City
February 24-27
NDSC 47th Annual Safety & Health Conference 
February 25-26
8th Annual ND Reclamation Conference
March 19-21
North Dakota Democratic Party Nominating Convention
March 27-29
North Dakota Republican Party Nominating Convention
April 21-23
2020 Great Plains Tribal Transportation Workshop 
Four Bears - New Town
May 19-21
Williston Basin Petroleum Conference