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BAKKEN NEWS Continued from page 1


By CHRISTOPHER BJORKE Bismarck Tribune


North Dakota oil and gas offi - cials heard testimony on new drill- ing regulations Nov. 10, with indus- try representatives asking for more fl exibility and landowners and oth- ers asking for tougher restrictions. The state Industrial Commission


has proposed new rules for how hold- ing pits are managed at well sites, how hydraulic fracturing is conducted and other changes aimed at the safety and environmental impact of oil develop- ment. The Department of Mineral Resources is beginning a process of collecting testimony on the changes. Ron Ness of the North Dakota Petro-


companies be required to report frack- ing chemicals on the industry’s Frac- Focus.org website and allow them to design their own fracking methods. “Many of our operators do things


Page 5 Drilling regulations get hearing State Highway 22


22. Repairs involved adding new base, turn lanes and pavement, Gangl said. Gangl said the widening proj-


that are just as good or better,” than the new state requirements, he said. Oil and gas offi cials also heard tes-


timony by landowners supporting stronger requirements for companies. McLean County State’s Attorney Ladd


leum Council, an industry association, said that the companies he represents supported most of the rules, but he pre- sented 15 pages of written comments asking for changes to increase indus- try options and reduce cost increases. “Several changes, including bond- reserve pits and new fracture


ing, TOM STROMME/Tribune


Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council speaks Tuesday.


stimulation provisions, will add sub- stantial costs ranging from $200,000 to $400,000 per well,” said Ness, reading his written testimony. “This cost would add $400 million to the drilling and well completions on an annual basis.” Ness said the average cost


to develop a well is $8 million. Under the new regulations, com-


panies would no longer be allowed to keep liquids in drilling pits at wells and would have to reclaim pits within 30 days of drilling. The rules also would prohibit companies from holding waste fl uids and other byproducts in reserve pits for wells deeper than 5,000 feet, but they permit temporary pits for


ity of North Dakota to sustain oil de- velopment when oil prices drop below some threshold might be signifi cantly reduced if reserve pits are no lon- ger possible,” according to Ness’


timony. He said a small number of wells operating now would not be eco- nomically feasible under the new rules. Ness and oil company represen- tatives who testifi ed also gave


nical comments on new require- ments for securing fracking structures and installing safety monitors. The state’s rules require drillers to disclose fracking chemicals if they do not follow requirements for “frack string” procedures designed to improve the process’ safety. Ness asked that all


tech- tes-


holding oil, water, other fl uids or solids “NDPC is concerned that the abil-


Erickson testifi ed that mineral leasing has increased in that county, and he would like to see reclamation requirements for well sites be as stringent as they are for coal mining sites. He is worried about the long-term effects of buried chemi- cals under farm and pasture land and the costs and hazards they could pose. “That could cause people sitting in our position in 30 to 40 years considerable heartache fi guring out what to do,” he said. “I think the presumption of these rules should be no pits as we move forward.” Erickson said that there should be bet-


ter monitoring of pits and more access to hazardous waste landfi lls so companies would need not bury waste at well sites. “Your rules are light years behind


Northwest Landowners


tion, said that he agreed with Erick- son that allowing pits transferred costs to landowners in the future. “There needs to be some concern


president of the Associa-


where they should be by now,” he said. “If you’re talking about 30,000 to 50,000 wells, that’s a lot of agricultural land that needs to be put back into productivity.” Myron Hanson,


ect ran from mile markers 106 to 113 of Highway 22, and the slide areas were near mile marker 125. All three projects have been repaved, he said He said only minor cleanup is still needed at the slide repair project. “Traffi c shouldn’t notice,” Gangl said. For other road projects: ■ Construction is complete on 40


miles of U.S. Highway 85, between Watford City and Williston. The proj- ect added turn


lanes that will help ease road conges- tion and improve safety for drivers. ■ Other road repairs for landslides


have been completed for state High- way 73, U.S. 85 and state Highway 1804. ■ State Highway 1806, north of Watford


City, to Tobacco Gardens, is open to traffi c. ■ State Highway 23, west of


New Town, is open to traffi c. ■ Traffi c signals are being in- stalled at highway intersections near Tioga, at two U.S. Highway 2 intersec- tions west of Williston and three in- tersections in the Watford City area. ■ The state is working with the city


of Williston and Williams County of- fi cials to develop a Williston bypass. ■ The state has provided $142 million for 59 county road projects.


for what’s happening 30 years down the road,” he said. “It shouldn’t be the bottom line dollar amount right now that they’re thinking about.”


JAMES MacPHERSON Associated Press


guilty and pay a $1,000 fi ne for kill- ing a duck during drilling opera- tions in western North Dakota,


charged under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for the death of a northern shoveler found May 6 in one of the company’s waste pits. Under the third such plea agreement fi led in federal court, Petro- Hunt will pay the fi ne to the nonprofi t National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon said he


could not comment on plea deal because it still must be approved by a federal judge. Petro-Hunt did not immediately return


cording to an agreement fi led Nov. 4. Dallas-based Petro-Hunt LLC was


ac-


Oil company to plead guilty in duck death A Texas oil company will plead


telephone calls Nov. 4 seeking comment. Prosecutors charged seven oil com-


Wichita, Kan., agreed last month to plead guilty and pay $12,000 for kill- ing a dozen birds in North Dakota’s oil patch. Fidelity Exploration & Produc- tion Co., of Denver, also agreed last month to plead guilty and pay a $1,500 fi ne for the death of a solitary sandpiper found in one of the company’s waste pits. Four other oil companies charged with killing birds during drilling operations in


panies in August after federal wildlife offi cials discovered 28 dead birds in un- covered waste pits in May and June. The maximum penalty for each misdemeanor charge under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is six months in prison and a $15,000 fi ne. Slawson Exploration Co.


Inc., of


N.D. Education, Inc. (Reach reporter LeAnn Eckroth at


250-8264 or leann.eckroth@bismarck- tribune.com.)


Continued from page 1 Rep.


North Dakota have pleaded not guilty. They are ConocoPhillips Co., of Houston; Newfi eld Production Co., of Houston; Brigham Oil and Gas LP, of Williston; and Continental Resources Inc., of Enid, Okla. Court records show that Petro Hunt had been cited by federal wildlife offi cials in 2007 and twice in 2008 for killing birds in oil waste pits. The company was fi ned $375 in each of those incidents, records show. Companies in North Dakota are re-


said that although the state has a good education system, “We also know we can always be better. The state of North Dakota always strives to be better.” Shane Goettle,


tor for Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., read a letter from Hoeven,


ing Hess for its contribution. “The funding will make a tremen- dous impact on the state ... thanks for recognizing the enormous poten- tial of North Dakota,” Goettle read. Dalrymple presented


quired to cover the so-called reserve pits with netting if they are open for more than 90 days after drilling op- erations. The waste pits, which can contain oil, diesel, drilling muds and chemicals, are about the size of a large swimming pool, and birds sometimes mistake them for a good place to land.


len with a North Dakota license plate that read HESS, in gratitude.


250-8251 or mara.vanells@bismarcktri- bune.com.)


(Reach reporter Mara Van Ells at VanAl-


state direc- thank-


RaeAnn Kelsch, R-Mandan, lanes and passing Killdeer and moved north on Highway


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