long x bridge tour

Bill Panos, left, answers a question from Sen. Dale Patton, R-McKenzie, during a tour of Long X bridge work in this file 2020 photo.

The $1.6 billion budget is nearing the finish line. So far it includes some funding for Highway 85, a $50 million loan authorization from the bank of North Dakota to four-lane an 11-mile section of the route from Watford City south to the new Long X bridge.

This funding is once again contingent, however, on receiving federal matching funds for the project, which has proven to be a challenge in the past.

The 11-mile section would cost $104 million, and is the second phase of North Dakota Department of Transportation’s plans for U.S. 85. The first phase, already completed, was a four-lane open-deck bridge — a $34 million project. Ultimately, the state wants to four-lane the entire stretch of highway, from Watford City to Belfield.

Highway 85 is a federal highway. It moves 4,500 vehicles per day, according to statistics from DOT, and at times during the boom led the state in fatalities.

North Dakota has tried multiple times for federal funding to improve the roadway, which was never designed with oilfield truck traffic in mind, but has so far been unsuccessful.

North Dakota approves bills that will help lignite industry

Two measures that aim to help the lignite industry have been approved by the North Dakota House. These include HB 1452, which establishes a Clean Sustainable Energy Authority, and HB1412, which will reduce the coal conversion tax by 85 percent for five years, equivalent to what is the state’s share of the tax collection. The measure won’t change the share of tax distributed to political subdivisions, though coal counties can decide to opt out. The measure would save the lignite industry around $21 million, and is intended to help the industry regain its footing in a changing energy landscape.

HB 1452, meanwhile, would establish a new energy authority that will support the development of new energy technologies, as well as technologies that reduce emissions and minimize the environmental impact of energy production in the state. That bill is already on Gov. Doug Burgum’s desk for signing.

Separate proposals, meanwhile, seek to establish a Clean Sustainable Energy Fund to support development of new energy technologies, including things like Project Tundra, a pilot program to capture carbon dioxide from the Milton R. Young station. Those bills are all still largely up in the air.

Oasis Petroleum names new CEO

Daniel E. “Danny” Brown has been named the new CEO of Oasis Petroleum, effective April 13. Brown was also appointed to the Oasis Board of Directors at the same time.

Brown has 23 years experience in the oil and natural gas industry, including at Anadarko, which was acquired by Occidental Petroleum Corporation in 2019. Brown held a variety of leadership positions with Anadarko, which he joined in 2006, following the acquisition of the Kerr-McGee Corporation.

Brown is a registered professional engineer in Texas, and has a Bachelor’s of Science in mechanical engineering from Texas A & M, as well as an MBA from Rice University, where he was a Jones Scholar award recipient.

Taylor Reid continues as President and Chief Operating Officer, Michael Lou as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and Nickolas Lorentzatos as Executive Vice President and general counsel.

"I greatly appreciate the confidence shown by the board of directors in asking me to lead this exceptionally well positioned company with its well-respected management team and board, talented professionals, premier assets, pristine balance sheet, commitment to ESG and new strategic vision,” Brown said. “I look forward to working with our board, senior management, and our full complement of dedicated team members as we plan and execute our new path forward to maximize value for our stakeholders."

Energy Transfer marks 25th year in U.S.

Dallas-based Energy Transfer is celebrating its 25th year in the United States. The company has more than 90,000 miles of pipeline traversing 38 states and Canada, and also has international offices in Canada and Beijing. It employs 10,000 people in all.

Kelcy Warren and Ray Davis founded the company in 1996, starting out as a small intrastate pipeline company with 200 miles of natural gas pipeline in east Texas and 20 employees. Today, it’s ranked 59 on the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest companies, and it transports not just natural gas, but crude oil, NGLs, refined products, and liquified natural gas. Among its many achievements is the construction of the first 42-inch natural gas pipeline in Texas and the largest dual-pipeline project in the nation.

“To look back 25 years to the time when Ray and I bought our first assets as Energy Transfer to where we are today is truly remarkable,” said Warren, now Executive Chairman of Energy Transfer. “It has been quite a ride. Our journey has not always been easy, but we have built a company that has the best pipeline assets in the industry. I am not only proud of what we have accomplished, but I am excited about where we are going. We have a terrific leadership team in place and amazing employees who I am honored to work alongside.”

Meetings, public hearings, public comments, studies, and other quick takes

• U.S. 52 public input forum, April 27, on North Dakota Department of Transportation website, www.dot.nd.gov. This is not a live event, but a pre-recorded presentation. The project adds or extends passing lanes on U.S. highway 52 from Portal Border Crossing to Brooks Junction at U.s. 2. Written statements must be postmarked or emailed by May 12 to James Rath, 608 East Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58505‑0700 or jrath@nd.gov with “Virtual Public Input Meeting” in the subject heading.

For any questions, help submitting comments, or to request hard copy materials please contact James Rath at (701) 328‑1722.

• Seasonal load restrictions lifted Thursday, April 22, in southern portions of North Dakota, effective 7 a.m. The state’s road restriction map is online at https://travel.dot.nd.gov.

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