A pump jack at a well site north of Williston.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council and the Western Dakota Energy Association have been tracking where all the state’s oil money has gone from 2008 to 2018. Wednesday, they released the finished results — just in time to serve as talking points during the new legislative biennium.

Lawmakers at the state Capitol are already discussing a proposal that would create a new funding strategy to both steady Hub City funding and spread more oil money out to non-oil producing counties.

The bill, being carried by Rep. Mike Nathe, R-Bismarck, has been dubbed Operation Prairie Dog. It was authored by Sen. Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson.

“We appreciate the efforts of the NDPC and WDEA in compiling this information,” Wardner said. “During the legislative session, as we debate tax and spending bills, this information will be critical in ensuring lawmakers have a full understanding of where tax revenues are coming from and where they are being spent.”

The numbers show the oil industry has helped the entire state, not just the West, said Geoff Simon, Executive Director of WDEA.

“We’re excited to share this information, so people have a clear picture of how their government services are being funded,” he said.

North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness added that the information is important for the public to understand as lawmakers consider future spending.

According to the study, which was prepared by Brent Bogar with Jadestone Consulting, Oil Patch counties have done well by oil money.

Williams, Mckenzie, Mountrail, Ward and Stark Counties all fell into the $450 million and up category as far as total funds received from 2008 to 2018. Divide and Dunn were in the $150 to $499 million category.

Williams County’s total oil money was $944 million for property tax abatement, water projects, school funding, Outdoor Heritage projects, local transportation projects, and one-time surge funds, while McKenzie County received $762 million.

Stark received $474 million, Ward $458 million, Mountrail $582 million, Dunn $331 million, and Divide $177 million.

In most counties, the largest category of non-surge funding was for local transportation projects. Water projects were the next largest category in most cases.

The numbers also show that the West wasn’t the only recipient of big money from oil.

Grand Forks and Cass County also landed in the $450 million and up category, while nearby Barnes, Richland and Stutsman were all in the $75 to $149 million category.

Bottineau, Ramsey and Morton counties, in Central North Dakota, were also in the 75 to 149 million category, while Burleigh landed in the $150 to $499 million category.


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