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Thursday, November 24, 2011 ■ Covering the Williston Basin

Oil speculation spreading to Rocky Mountain

Front Associated Press HELENA, Mont. — Speculation that

the oil-rich Bakken shale formation may extend as far west as the Rocky Moun- tain Front is sparking increased leasing of land along the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains and in north-central Montana. “This area has a lot of similar charac-

Super 2 needs to be a

By LAUREN DONOVAN Bismarck Tribune

Watford City is one of those increasingly rare people in his town who are not em- ployed in the oil industry. He’s a crop sprayer and drives high-

ways and gravel roads from one end of McKenzie County to the other. Pelton’s been out on the new stretch

of U.S. Highway 85 between Watford City and Williston that cost about $1 million a mile to transform from a bottlenecked traditional two-lane into a faster moving Super 2 highway. Work started in June, and the last de-

teristics to the Bakken in eastern Mon- tana — it’s like a baby brother,” Primary Petroleum president Mike Marrandino said. “It’s shallower, so it’s more acces- sible and you don’t have to compete with rigs in the western basin like in eastern Montana, so your costs are less.” Three companies have either drilled

WATFORD CITY — Marco Pelton of

tails were fi nished a week ago. The state planned two years of work, but speed pressed the job into two con- tracts in one year. A Minnesota contrac- tor, Central Specialties, was the low bid- der for both. The Super 2 design is a wider road sur-

or received permits to drill 37 explora- tion wells on the Blackfeet Indian Res- ervation in Glacier County since 2009. In the past year, at least 14 companies or individuals have spent millions of dol- lars to lease hundreds of parcels in Gla- cier, Teton, Toole, Pondera, Cascade and Lewis and Clark counties. Marrandino said his company has

been interested in exploration along the Front since about 2005, but three test wells drilled in 2009 and released in February 2010 that is spurring the latest land rush on oil leases. The results estimated there were 13

million to 15 million barrels of recov- erable oil per square mile, Marrandino said.

Continued on page 5 EPA may recant

on haze rules N.D. senators hopeful EPA will adopt state’s proposed haze plan — 4

Oil boom raises

rents in N.D. Seniors being pushed out as they cannot afford the increased rent — 6

face, generous shoulders, turning lanes at critical intersections and stretches where it widens out with a passing lane so slow climbing semi trucks can move aside for faster traffi c. In all honesty, Pelton said Nov. 18, he’s a bit disappointed. He expected more passing lanes in fact,

he expected three lanes the entire stretch. It’s better than it was, but it’s not all it

had to do something,” he said. Pelton inadvertently touched on the

could be. “It’s certainly a welcome change. They

offi cial recognition that while $43 million was money well spent, the highway car- ries so much traffi c and so much heavy traffi c that the only real solution is a four- lane highway.


Mayors Brent Sanford, left, of Watford City, and Ward Koeser of Williston stand near U.S. Highway 85, the recently improved highway that connects their two communities.

didn’t want to spoil the party Nov. 18, when state and community dignitaries gathered in the soaring atrium of First International Bank and Trust in Watford City to recognize the highway comple- tion. “We need four lanes as soon as pos-

sible. People are being killed and injured daily. This is not good, people,” Koeser said. “This is a fi rst step, but we haven’t arrived.” Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford said the highway improvements do make a difference. Before the project, it took

Williston Mayor Ward Koeser said he

almost two hours to drive to Williston. Now, it’s almost back to the normal 45- minute drive. The mayor took a fi gurative look over his shoulder to Highway 23 (which con- nects Watford City to New Town and be- yond) coming into town from the other direction. That’s the next problem, he said. “At certain times out there, there’s a

string of lights as far as you can see,” San- ford said. State Department of Transportation

Continued on page 5

Oil hits $100 per barrel

May drive gasoline prices higher and slow economic recovery — 10

director Frances Ziegler said the state re- alizes Highway 85 needs four lanes, and

Super 4

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