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Three petrochemical companies eyeing Bakken, meanwhile new flaring record in June

Not just one petrochemical company, but three are interested in North Dakota’s gas, according to the state’s top oil and gas regulator, Lynn Helms.

Flaring, meanwhile, was worse than ever in the month of June, Helms said. But not just because new production records for oil and gas were set — 1.425 million for oil and 2.877 million cubic feet per day for gas in June. There were several outages at multiple gas plants in the month of June that contributed to the substantial increase in flared gas.

Director of Mineral Resources Lynn Helms was among North Dakota delegates who recently toured the Alberta petrochemical industry. Helms told reporters during his monthly oil and gas production report that he would put the state’s chances at a petrochemical plant at 50-50 based on the trip.

“There are at least three petrochemical processors in Alberta that have expressed interest in North Dakota,” he said. “So it’s not a one-off. It’s not just one company that is make or break. There are actually three companies up there, so that increases the confidence level a great deal.”

Helms agreed with recent comments by Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, about the potential impact of a gas plant for the state.

“It’s going to be a really useful impact for North Dakota, over and above flaring reduction,” Helms said, describing it as both a true value-added product, and an enormous job-add.

A petrochemical plant would also help tremendously with flaring issues, Helms said, giving the state a way to use its excess gas and NGLs within its own borders.

Helms said the state “really fell down” in terms of meeting gas capture targets during June.

“We dropped to 76 percent capture,” he said.

Flaring volumes increased by 155,000 million cubic feet per day to to 687 million per day, which Helms said is the highest total yet.

Helms blamed blamed outages at multiple gas plants and pipeline systems, including the Alliance pipeline.

The Alliance pipeline runs from Saskatchewan. Pipeline Authority Justin Kringstad estimated the line carries about 220 million cubic feet per day of natural gas from the Bakken to Chicago, in addition to natural gas from Canada.

The line was shut down for maintenance and repairs for about nine days. It was only supposed to be shut down for four days.

“Having that down for nine or 10 days put a huge dent (in gas capture),” Helms said. “You can see the Fort Berthold gas capture fell to 62 percent. That’s as low as it has ever been.”

In addition to Alliance, Oasis Petroleum’s Wild Basin gas plant was down for one to two weeks for a planned turnaround, or maintenance period.

Helms said 13 operators are being reviewed for potential production restrictions, but added that most will probably have force majeure variances that cover them.

Things will improve toward the latter part of the year, Helms said.

Little Missouri 4 is now running at 100 million cubic feet per day, and headed for 200 million cubic feet by year’s end. The Arrow Bear Den 2 is running at 65 million cubic feet per day, and headed for 100 million at year end.

The Elk Creek pipeline, meanwhile, a key component in the gas capture system for transporting NGLs, is on schedule for the end of the year.

“July looks like another problem month,” Helms said. “But August looks better, and then we should climb out of our gas capture woes in September, October and November.”

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Williston Basin International Airport making "tremendous progress" as opening day approaches

The clock is ticking down, with less than 60 days before the lights go off at Sloulin Field and Williston Basin International Airport commences operations. With delays from weather and shortage of materials, how are things coming at the new site?

“We’ve got a lot of really tremendous progress happening right now.” Airport Director Anthony Dudas told the Williston Herald.

Dudas said that all the pieces are coming together, and work at the site is continuing at a fevered pitch as crews continue work on the airport’s major projects, the commercial terminal and the runway and taxiways. While work on the terminal has progressed fairly steadily, issues with cement shortages had caused minor delays for the paving of the runway and taxiways. The airport was able to overcome some of those issues with the weekly deliveries of 3,000 tons of cement for the project, though Dudas did say while the deliveries were critical to the completion of those projects, workers were still not working at full capacity.

“We’re continuing paving operations,” Dudas explained. “We’ve got half of the taxiway paved to its full depth and we’ve started paving the full depth on our private aviation apron and we’ve got the first 180 feet paved to the full depth of our commercial apron. So we’ve made a lot of progress on the airfield pavement.”

Dudas said that the airport has already done the internal flight checks on the facility’s instrument approach system, and that it passed “with flying colors.” He added that the airport is now working to coordinate the official FAA flight check for all of the airport’s new approaches, which he said is a critical milestone for the airport to begin operations. A date for those tests has not yet been set, Dudas said, but the hope is that they can be completed within the next 30 days.

Overall, Dudas said, the work that is happening at the site is very impressive. Crews began this week on paving the taxi lanes, which provide access to the private hanger areas of the airport.

To date, five private operators have signed lease agreements to build private hangers at the site.

Along with that progress, Dudas added that the private aviation Fixed-Base Operator provider, Overland Aviation, is well along their way for construction of their 30,000 square foot hangar.

The Customs and Border Protection facility will also be housed at the Overland site, which Dudas said will be approximately 50,000 square feet once completed. The primary focus at this point, according to Dudas, is completion of the commercial terminal.

“The commercial terminal is really just full speed ahead,” he said. “They have about 150 people in that facility alone, every day, putting in the fit and finishes. The pedal to the floor to make sure that we hit our critical milestones to commence operations on Oct. 10.”

With less than two months to go until the first flight lands, Dudas said the excitement is building for he and other airport crew as the opening day deadline approaches.

“We’re very excited here at the airport operations office,” Dudas said. “I think I can speak for most of the other people that work day in and day out at Sloulin Field, they’re very excited to have the space they need to have a more efficient and customer friendly operation. The excitement is really ramping up right now with our staff here.”

Bakken Elementary student returns from Washington D.C. to share leadership skills

Williston student Katherine Erickson, spent a week in Washington, D.C. for the Junior National Young Leaders Conference at the end of July, and the Williston Herald caught up with her to find out what she learned.

The conference is hosted by Envision, a company that provides leadership programs across the world. The company says their mission is focused on giving high-aspiring students in elementary school through college an opportunity to turn their aspirations into reality, and that it supports that mission through a variety of programs featuring performing arts, sports, career exploration, and study abroad.

The conference is just one of those programs, serving as a “living classroom for students while they develop important leadership skills and enjoy the educational experience of a lifetime.” The program focuses on influential figures from American history and social advocacy, as well as site experiences and hands-on activities to make the concept and skills of effective leadership accessible for the students.

Erickson spent the week exploring the nation’s capital, taking in sights such as Lincoln Memorial, The American History Museum and the Korean War Memorial. Along with visiting some of our nation’s most important monuments, Erickson also took part in classes and workshops designed to help foster her leadership skills.

“I learned to be more patient,” Erickson told the Williston Herald. “I learned how I can be a better leader, and how I can show others to be a leader. I always thought that being a leader is you have to boss people around, but I learned that you have to take other’s ideas into perspective and just think about how others feel.”

Erickson hopes to pursue a career in law enforcement later when she’s older, and said the leadership skills she learned at the conference will help her with that goal. She’s also considering becoming a lawyer. No matter what path she takes, however, she knows she wants to be a force for good in the world.

“I want to make the world a better place,” she said. “Being a police officer, I would be able to do that. (Police officers) are leaders, they save the world, they make the world a better place. I learned that if I want to be like that, I have to achieve my goals. I have to be a better leader. I learned that I just have to keep trying and never give up.”

Erickson said her favorite part of the experience was being able to meet other students from across the country and learn about their lives and their aspirations. While she was nervous at first, she quickly made friends and has continued those relationships even after returning home. Erickson is eligible to return to the conference in the future to take part in all-new activities and workshops, something she and her mother hope she can do in coming years.

“I would definitely go back,” she said. “It was a great experience.”

Erickson will be starting sixth grade at Bakken Elementary next week.

Fire in Arnegard, police chase through Williston

The PDQ Bar in Arnegard caught fire late Wednesday night. Meanwhile, there were two police chases — one originating from Stanley — in Williston earlier in the afternoon.

Arnegard Fire Chief Rick Schreiber said he received a call just before 9 p.m. Wednesday night about the fire at the PDQ bar, which has been closed for about a month.

“There was a tremendous amount of smoke coming up when I arrived on the scene,” he said.

No one was in the structure, nor was anyone injured fighting the fire.

“The only thing I can tell you at this time is that the fire started in the kitchen,” he said. “We were able to get it stopped. And it didn’t go any further than the kitchen.”

For any further details on the fire, including its cause, Schreiber referred the Williston Herald to the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Department, which said it would issue a release later in the day. The release said the fire is under investigation.

On the police chases, Detective Sgt. Caleb Fry, with Williams County Sheriff’s Department, said the first chase originated from Stanley and ended in Mountrail County.

“We were just kind of a quick go-through county for that one,” he said.

A representative of the Stanley Police Department was contacted for more information, but said he was not authorized to discuss it with the media. He said he would seek permission, and indicated that a statement might be released to the Williston Herald late Thursday afternoon.

The second chase in Williston was a short pursuit by two police cars of a motorist who police believe had outstanding arrest warrants.

The suspect’s vehicle was traveling west along Highway 1804 at about 3 p.m., in the vicinity of Scenic Sports.

Police estimated his speed was faster than 100 miles per hour.

“That is when they ended it, due to the suspect’s safety and the public’s,” Fry said.

No property damage or accidents occurred as a result of the chase, which is still under investigation.

Short on forage? Or have a surplus to sell? Here’s help

Some producers in North Dakota are short on forage following a long, cold winter and late spring that depleted supplies, while others have a surplus, thanks to timely rain.

If only the two could get together somehow …

Wait, they can.

NDSU’s FeedList website, http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/feedlist, was created during feed shortages of the 70s to help connect livestock producers who need forage with sellers.

Producers may also list pastures for rent through the service, which is free of charge.

The FeedList shows what each seller has for sale, how it is stored, and the seller’s contact information. Prospective buyers can select what they want to buy and contact the sellers directly. To list forage for sale or donation, complete an online form at the site. If you need assistance filling out the form, contact your local NDSU Extension County office.

A complete list of these offices is available at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/extension/directory.

Entries to the FeedList are deleted after 90 days. Contact Elizabeth Cronin, at elizabeth.cronin@ndsu.edu, to have an entry removed before 90 days is up.

The FeedList site also links to similar services in other states, as well as information on needed and available feedlots and truckers.