Blog

jessica-senaBy: Jessica Sena

If you haven’t heard of the Dakota Access pipeline protest across the North Dakota border, now’s the time to pay attention.

The project, a 30-inch-diameter pipeline owned by Energy Transfer Partners that would move up to 570,000 barrels per day from the Bakken oil fields to Patoka, Illinois, was scheduled to be operational by the end of the year. The pipeline operator purchased voluntary easement agreements on 100% of the properties along the route in North Dakota and 99% of the properties across the entire four-state route. All permits, including approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in July, have also been obtained by the company; however, protests have stopped construction in its tracks.

Yesterday, two decisions marked a precedent setting action by the federal government, with respect to land use and lawful development. Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court denied the South Dakota Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit to block pipeline construction, siting a lack of evidence that building the pipeline would harm the Tribe.

The Departments of Justice, the Interior and the Army then immediately announced an indefinite suspension of pipeline construction to reassess cultural impacts to what the Tribe calls “sacred ground”. The pipeline route does not cross the Standing Rock reservation, however, the Tribe fears harm to Lake Oahe on the Missouri River in North and South Dakota.

Consultation with GeoEngineers, a subcontractor to Dakota Access, provided information which indicates the boring process would not be of a magnitude to impact natural features, cultural resource features or above ground structures. The crossing at Lake Oahe will be placed approximately 140-210 feet below the ground surface and approximately 92 feet below the bottom of Lake Oahe. The pipeline would utilize the best available safety and monitoring technology.

The Dakota Access team held 154 meetings with local elected officials and community organizations in North Dakota since the project was announced last summer. Over the course of the year-long approval process with the North Dakota Public Service Commission, the Tribe did not once appear to voice concerns over the impacts of the pipeline’s route.

Protests arose after the project was approved and easements secured, and have since become violent and unlawful. Construction workers (100% of which are union per the project agreement) have needed protection by security guards and law enforcement. National Guardsmen have also been alerted by the North Dakota Governor to standby for support.

Allies of the Tribe in its protest have been extreme environmental groups, the Black Lives Matters movement, a handful of celebrities, and Green Party candidate for President, Jill Stein. Stein was among many seen vandalizing construction equipment last week, for which a warrant was issued for her arrest. Multiple arrests of protesters have been made along the pipeline route for trespassing and criminal mischief.

The suit filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the tribe states that, “the tribe relies on the waters of Lake Oahe for drinking water, irrigation, fishing and recreation and to carry out cultural and religious practices. The public water supply for the tribe, which provides drinking water for thousands of people, is located a few miles downstream of the proposed pipeline crossing route.” It goes on to say, “the cultural and religious significance of these waters cannot be overstated. Construction of the pipeline … and building and burying the pipeline would destroy burial grounds, sacred sites, and historically significant areas on either side of Lake Oahe.”

In the federal agencies’ announcement to halt construction on federal land and beneath Lake Oahe, it was said the conflict highlights the need to consider “nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.” “Reform” is the word that should have everyone concerned.

In a 1988 case, Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association, wherein The U.S. Forest Service attempted to complete a logging road through the Six Rivers National Forest in northwestern California, despite the religious use of the area by three Indian tribes, the Supreme Court ruled against the Tribes.

By ruling in favor of development, the Court avoided a situation in which tribes could guarantee the nonuse of significant portions of government land. The Court, reportedly, realized that the veto power requested by the tribes “could easily require de facto beneficial ownership of some rather spacious tracts of public property,” and it accordingly acted to prevent such an occurrence.

Following the decision, the Supreme Court stated, “however much we might wish that it were otherwise, government simply could not operate if it were required to satisfy every citizen’s religious needs and desires.”

And here we are, now faced with the very question of satisfying desires of some people over the laws which govern all people. The federal government has gone against its own agencies and judges’ lawful determinations to allow the heavily regulated construction of a $3.7 billion dollar pipeline which would create between 8,000-12,000 construction jobs and millions in beneficial tax revenue to the states in which it operates.

It’s worth noting that there are more than 2 million miles of pipeline traversing the country. Seventy percent of domestic crude is transported by pipeline, the safest means of moving oil and natural gas according to the federal government’s own Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Those resources, moved by pipeline, provide the necessary living essentials to all people, regardless of their beliefs or support. Every one of the protestors along the Dakota Access pipeline is a consumer of petroleum products, and benefits from the monies which result from pipeline infrastructure.

This decision, perhaps a Keystone XL sequel, will set the stage for what appears to be a frightening and uncertain future. If unlawful protests can reverse lawful permits, then the rule of law itself as it pertains to pipelines, permits, people and public lands as a whole, is imperiled.

BOPSS_BOBJWebBannerAd

MPA-MARK-MATHIS

The 2016 annual meeting of the Montana Petroleum Association (MPA) will take place in Billings August 30th and 31st at the DoubleTree Hotel, formerly the Crowne Plaza.

Event highlights include special guest, Congressman Ryan Zinke to speak Tuesday night at Pryor Creek Golf Course during the MPA barbeque. Recent past speakers include former Lt. Governor Angela McLean and Attorney General Tim Fox.

On Wednesday, the morning will commence at the DoubleTree with breakfast speaker Paul Babb of Butte, Community Relations Manager for NorthWestern Energy. Babb is a current member of the REAL Montana Program, a public-private partnership through the MSU Extension office, engaged in educating leaders of Montana on agriculture and natural resource development industries and issues. His presentation will be focused on the importance of “Telling the Story of Our Employees”.

The general meeting of MPA will follow, ahead of three panels which will address subjects including landowner relations, community engagement, methane rules, federal proposals, and collaboration with local government.

mpa_alan-olson“This year, we wanted to tailor our meeting to address Montana-specific issues that appeal to both industry and the general public,” said Alan Olson, Executive Director of MPA. “We’re hosting a good mix of industry experts and the regulators we work with on each of our panels.” (Olson, pictured right with MPA President, Greg Brown, CHS Refinery).

Panelists include Jack King of Billings, longtime landman and former commissioner with the Board of Oil and Gas Conservation; Steve Durrett, current BOGC member and President of August Energy Partners; recent past president of the Montana Association of Professional Landmen, Nicole Bement of Sidney, now with XTO. Each panelist will address how industry can balance public concerns with oil and gas operations by improving communication.

On the Community Engagement panel, speakers will discuss how oil and gas businesses are preparing the next generation of industry leaders, and making lasting investments in the community. Panelists will be Dan Carter, Public and Government Affairs Manager at ExxonMobil; Danette Welsh, Government Affairs Manager at ONEOK, representing the midstream; and Shawna Bonini, Montana Tech grad and past president with the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and former Drilling Engineer for Chevron, and SM Energy in Billings.

A final panel on industry topics will address issues facing the oil and gas sector at the state and federal level, including hotly contested methane rules. Speakers include Tony Lucero, Lead of Regulatory Programs at Enerplus Resources; Karl Christians, Conservation District Specialist, DNRC; and Brian Fakharzadeh, VP of Development and Operations at Western Energy Alliance.

Keynote speaker of this year’s Petroleum Industry Appreciation Day luncheon will be author and filmmaker, Mark Mathis. Mathis has spent most of his career challenging widely accepted ideas that are he describes as “simply untrue”. Mathis’s resume includes a decade as a TV news anchor and reporter, talk radio host, media trainer, founder of Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy, speaker and documentary film producer/director.

In his film, spOILed, Mathis highlighted the public’s ignorance of the central role oil plays in our lives. Mark’s new film, Fractured, exposes how language is used to dangerously deceive us about the most essential component to the function of the modern world—energy.

Registration is available online at montanapetroleum.org, and the public is invited to attend. Press requests and additional questions can be directed to Jessica Sena, 590-8675.

By: Steve Unterseher

I recently experienced a news story regarding social media. The power of social medial hit me like a ton of bricks. Corporations have had to create and staff entire divisions just to manage their company image on social media. This became necessary because of smart phones, tablets, portable computing, Internet, and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. One’s reputation has come into a new existence in cyber space.

Steve Unterseher picture of 3 oil wellsThere are 3 oil wells in this picture. The one on the far left is in Canada with the other 2 north of Crosby, North Dakota. Picture by Steve Unterseher.

Corporate social media managers have the responsibility of managing social media relations. They must interpret Net Fires or social storms or attacks (made of opinions most of which is based not on fact, but someone else’s opinion based on someone else’s opinion or just because someone is unhappy and deliberately attempting to stir up trouble). They must also settle a legitimate issue that could significantly hurt their company. As social media grew, the relationships among each other and among companies and the public grew.

Organizations have experienced massive hits in their reputations and their bank accounts by not monitoring and managing activities on social media. How quickly these “waves” of popular opinion move among society.

I moved to eastern Montana in late 2005. Raised on the road in the Christian music-ministry industry, I developed a habit of taking “pictures” of my environment as I passed through. That habit stayed with me. I now live in Fairview, Montana, where my father grew up. I remember coming here as a teenager, so I can see how the groups in our area changed as oil prices have gone up and down.

I started taking new memory pictures to add to the old ones. With the oilfield coming into a boom the likes of which we had no idea, I quickly observed this region changing dramatically.

There are few highways, county and back roads I have not been on in the Bakken. From the very first oil well I helped assemble, the State Lindsey, as a green roustabout, to all the thousands of locations since. The petroleum industry has had a massive impact on this area. I now see oil industry shops, yards, equipment, parts, and supplies where I used to see agriculture industry with empty farm fields.

With the expansion side of oil and gas exploration coming to a near standstill, many people lost their oil related jobs and decided to return “home. It has been a struggle for those of us who have decided to dig in and remain.

Back to social media. I have watched as innocent organizations have been negatively affected by the “downturn”. Fifty years ago much of what was written had to pass through several pairs of overseeing eyes, analyzing what was being said, how it was being said, and how well the message followed established English rules for writing. Those days are gone.

You read someone’s Facebook post about something negative happening at a local business or organization? You reply with a negative comment. You share the whole negative story on your own page. In a matter of minutes or hours, a social case has been built against a person or organization (whether it is built on fact or fiction).

The court of popular opinion has entered into hyper-drive. The resulting “court of social media opinion” has the power to destroy good people and good organizations.

At times I saw the difficulties my father had dealing with the cranky old troublemakers who ‘have been doing this 49 years’. Fast forward 35 years. Now when someone has something bad to say about you, they just pick up their internet device and post it. Or they comment on someone’s Facebook about it. The damage spreads quickly and is in three dimensions.

Steve Unterseher work pictureSteven Unterseher is the owner of Smileys Energy Service, LLC in Fairview, Montana Steve is an inventor/hot oiler and also has Preacher in the Patch as his moniker when working in the in the Bakken oilfield patch near Williston, North Dakota.

 

 

Bakken BBQSummer is coming and the 4th Annual Bakken BBQ is approaching quickly. MBI Energy Services would
like to invite you to join us in our joint effort to raise money and awareness with Make-A-Wish®
North Dakota Friday, June 17th, 2016. This partnership will help raise money to grant wishes to children
in our community living with life-threatening conditions.

The Bakken BBQ concludes with the presentation of the coveted Best BBQ Trophy fought for by each
company’s established team! Team’s menus are encouraged to include a meat and a side dish, dessert
optional. Each company needs to provide one judge. Judges will sample food from each participating
team and make their decision based on taste, originality and uniqueness. Trophies- and bragging rightswill
be awarded to the top 3 teams at 9:15 p.m. * Judges will not be able to score their own teams’ food.

Again, the BBQ will be held June 17th, 2016 at the West River Ice Center parking lot. Don’t forget, this
event is open to the public! Admission is $15/person which includes one drink ticket and unlimited taste
testing! Please bring your family and friends and enjoy this exciting community event. In addition to the
delicious food, the Blue Ribbon Band will be performing and activities will be provided for children. There
will be a raffle drawing before the awards are distributed, each ticket costs $10.00 with a variety of prizes.

Download the Registration Form, here.

Download the Event Information Brochure, here.

If you are unable to participate in the Bakken BBQ but wish to contribute a monetary donation:

Please make checks payable to: MBI Energy Services/Bakken BBQ.
Please mail your contributions to
MBI Energy Services,
Attn. Tiffany Steiner
103 1st Ave W Suite 200
Dickinson, ND 58601

Only One Week Left to Save on Registration, Prices Increase 19 April.

Register now for ACE 2016 in Calgary and explore the ways you can learn invaluable knowledge, build your network and sharpen your skills.
Built upon the expertise and knowledge of the world’s most prominent and successful geoscientists, ACE is one of the industry’s most highly regarded science and technology programs and exhibitions offering you the most for your training dollar.

Register Early & Save Up to US $210

  • 900+ Technical & Poster Presentations
  • International Core Conference – Post Convention
  • 15 Field Trips
  • 16 Short Courses
  • Networking
  • Career Center
  • Exhibition showcasing cutting edge technology
  • Educational Luncheons
  • Forums & Special Sessions
  • Student Activities
  • Young Professionals Meet & Greet
    and Much More!

ACE-2016-ad-banner

(Photo courtesy of State Historical Society of North Dakota, William E. (Bill) Shemorry Photograph Collection)

April marks 65 years since North Dakota first became an oil producing state. Although there have been ups and downs, the industry continues today and is among the top oil producers in the world.  And it all started with the Clarence Iverson #1.

According to Clarence Herz, legend had it that when a landman approached a North Dakota wheat farmer about leasing his mineral rights for oil exploration he said he’d be glad to sign a lease and quipped, “I’ll drink all the oil you get in North Dakota.”

Herz continues:
On April 4th, 1951, North Dakota, after unsuccessfully exploring for 34 years, became the 27th state to produce petroleum.  The discovery well, Amerada Petroleum’s Clarence Iverson #1, produced nearly 250 barrels of oil per day.  It was North Dakota’s only producing well in 1951, as the other 9 attempts, all outside of the Williston Basin, were dry holes. The other nine wells, none of which were drilled by Amerada, were in Cavalier (4), Grand Forks, Morton, Pembina, Pierce, and Stutsman counties.

Click here to continue reading the history of North Dakota’s first well.

Urtec16-622x120_april

Daines Official Senate PortraitMade-in-Montana energy means good Montana jobs that on average pay two to three times more than the state average. Montana’s ability to create more good-paying energy jobs is immense – in fact, our state leads the nation in coal deposits. We are the nation’s fifth-largest producer of hydropower, with 23 hydroelectric dams across our state, and fifth in wind energy potential.

Montana is at the center stage of the national energy debate and provides the nation a template of a true all-of-the-above energy portfolio – we have coal, natural gas and oil, as well as renewables such as hydro, wind, biomass and solar opportunities. What makes our state most valuable are the people who make our energy systems work, towns like Colstrip that build communities around livelihoods reliant on good paying energy jobs: That is the good news.

The bad news: Montana energy jobs are under assault.

The past two weeks, I’ve heard from thousands of Montanans about the future and importance of made-in-Montana energy and made-in-Montana good-paying jobs.

During my week long tour across our state I saw once again, our vast natural resources and our true energy potential – from touring a wind farm near Baker – to seeing the hydropower facility at Helena’s Hauser Dam –to hosting a town hall in Colstrip – hearing directly from the community about the devastating effects President Obama’s anti-coal regulations will have on hardworking Montanans.

My statewide energy tour culminated this week at Montana Energy 2016, where over 600 people gathered in Billings for a Montana family conversation about our state’s energy future.

During the two and half day summit we heard a consistent and powerful message about the need to maximize our opportunity for growth and expand made-in-Montana energy and the good-paying jobs it supports.

Montanans are leading American energy innovation – Montanans’ like Chrystal Cuniff, a Montana Tech engineer from Choteau who’s helped drill the deepest well in the Gulf of Mexico or Ryan Lance, a Montana native, who’s leading one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world. Ashley Dennehey from Colstrip highlighted how the boilermakers, operators and other hardworking labor groups in her community are working hard to keep the lights on in the face of adversity.

We must continue investing in our two year colleges that provide training in trades like welding and heavy machine operations, so we can keep our kids here with good-paying energy jobs. And, we can’t forget that Montana coal provides tax revenues of $145 million year, which support our teachers and schools.

Montana should lead the world in developing clean coal technology.  We must continue to develop renewable technologies that will store the power created by wind. We should not allow Washington, D.C. and the Obama administration to dictate and regulate coal and gas out of existence.

We need more made-in-Montana energy, not more made in the Middle-East energy.

Make no mistake, President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency regulations are killing Montana energy. Our country’s future is bright if we can unleash the power of innovation and rein in the overregulation of Washington, D.C.

I couldn’t agree more with what Chairman of the Crow Nation Darrin Old Coyote said in his keynote address at Montana Energy 2016, “All of Montana citizens need to work together for a better tomorrow: renewable energy, fossil energy, conventional energy, Indian or non-Indian. Regardless of political affiliation, whether we are Democrats, Republicans or Independents.”

Montanans can find better solutions than Washington, D.C. bureaucrats.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a nationwide stay on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPAs) new regulations on coal-fired power plants. This decision provides states like Montana – and over half of the states in our nation – relief from these overreaching and misguided regulations while they are being challenged in court.

These latest EPA regulations are part of the Obama administration’s relentless attacks on affordable energy and good-paying Montana jobs. The federal government’s misguided plan would lead our country in the wrong direction – away from being an energy leader—and would destroy thousands of good-paying Montana jobs.

As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I’m working to move forward commonsense policies that help secure an all-of-the-above energy solution and push back on job-killing regulations that threaten Montana’s energy future.

By promoting innovation and responsibly developing Montana’s vast resources, we can secure abundant energy that is clean, affordable and reliable.

The 2015 Economic Outlook recently published by the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research showed how technology and innovation have already revolutionized the American energy industry to make made-in-America energy resources more accessible than ever.

Montana is ranked at the top in U.S. coal deposits, has rich oil and gas deposits including portions of the Bakken and Three Forks formations, has immense hydropower, solar and biomass potential, and is first in wind potential. Montana is truly an example of what an all-of-the-above energy plan can look like and is well-equipped for continued growth.

But despite this encouraging news – and even with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling to halt the Obama administration’s new regulations— Montana still faces challenges in reaching its full energy potential. We need to work toward comprehensive solutions that encourage innovation, grow our economy and revolutionize how we produce and distribute energy.

That’s why I’m hosting Montana Energy 2016 in Billings from March 29 to 31. Back for its third year, this comprehensive conference will focus on made-in-Montana energy and the good paying jobs it creates.

Montana holds a vital role in securing our nation’s all-of-the-above energy strategy and this conference comes at a vital time when our nation needs leadership. Montana Energy 2016 will bring together energy leaders to help increase innovation and move Montana’s energy opportunities to the next level.

Registration is open, with discounted rates for service members and students. Please visit www.MontanaEnergy.net to learn more and to register. Join me for Montana Energy 2016 so that we can work together to ensure that Montana remains an energy leader for years to come.

MTE_622x120

Bismarck, N.D. – The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) unnecessary and duplicative proposed rules for venting and flaring could reduce production on impacted leases, reduce state tax revenues and cost thousands of private royalty owners millions in lost royalty income, according to the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC).

“The industry supports the goals of capturing greater quantities of associated gas and reducing waste but this one-size-fits-all federal process could come at a huge cost to North Dakotans while providing few – if any – benefits,” said Tessa Sandstrom, communications manager for the NDPC.

Early industry estimates anticipate production could decrease by more than 20 percent from more than 2,780 affected wells. This would cost the state $23.8 million in oil and gas severance taxes and North Dakota mineral owners more than $39.1 million in lost royalty income if the rule were fully implemented.

“The BLM claims that they could collect $23 million in additional royalty revenues for the federal government, but even if that were true, it would be at the expense of more than $62.9 million in tax revenues and royalty income in North Dakota alone,” said Sandstrom.

“North Dakota already has some of the most comprehensive regulations addressing flaring in the nation. Over the past two years, North Dakota has adopted a series of strict gas capture targets. At the same time, the industry has voluntarily made huge strides in natural gas capture by investing more than $13 billion in natural gas infrastructure since 2006. As a result, flaring has declined even as natural gas production increased.

“This progress has been despite federal regulations, which is often responsible for delays preventing industry from building infrastructure needed to capture more gas. BLM’s staff, time and resources are already overtaxed. Implementing rules and regulations that are already covered by state or other federal agencies is unnecessary and will only further burden employees and dilute their ability to perform their duties. BLM and other federal agencies could make a larger, more immediate impact on reducing flaring by instead fixing permitting, infrastructure and pipeline delays.”

About the North Dakota Petroleum Council
Since 1952, the Petroleum Council has been the primary voice of the oil and gas industry in North Dakota. The Petroleum Council represents more than 500 companies involved in all aspects of the oil and gas industry, including oil and gas production, refining, pipeline, mineral leasing, consulting, legal work, and oil field service activities in North Dakota, South Dakota, and the Rocky Mountain Region. For more information, go to www.ndoil.org.

Media Contact:
Tessa Sandstrom, Communications Manager  | ND Petroleum Council
701.223.6380, tsandstrom@ndoil.org

622X120

19th Annual Dickinson API Gumbo Cookoff – hosted by Dickinson API Chapter
18 teams will square off for best gumbo. Prizes, raffles, live music, dancing and more!
When:          Saturday, February 20
11:00 a.m.   Teams start cooking; public is welcome to attend and watch;
6:30 p.m.     Gumbo tasting starts until gone
8:30 p.m.     Live Music and dance with EZ Street Band
Where:         Quality Inn & Suites, Dickinson, ND
More Info:    http://apidickinson.org/event/api-gumbo-cookoff/?instance_id=30

4th Annual Bakken BBQ
Industry teams join forces to BBQ for Make-a-Wish Foundation!
When:          June 17, 2016
Where:         West River Ice Rink
More Info:   https://www.facebook.com/BBQ4Cause/?fref=ts

North Dakota Oil Can! Teacher Seminar
Teachers are invited to attend a seminar to learn the ins and outs of the oil industry, tour a well site and other facilities, and take lesson plans back to their classrooms all while earning continuing educatoin credits.
When:         June 20-23, 2016
Where:        Bismarck, ND
More info:  The seminar is limited to just 50 teachers, but there are still spots available. Learn more and apply at http://www.ndoil.org/events/teacher_education/.

BOPSS_BOBJWebBannerAd