Amy Dalrymple is a Forum News Service reporter stationed in the Oil Patch. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 580-6890.
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BISMARCK — Watford City attorney Dennis Johnson generally sues oil companies. But the attorney who represents private mineral owners stood up on the same side as the oil industry last week, advocating for the North Dakota Legislature to resolve uncertainty over Missouri River mineral ownership. The Missouri River and Lake Sakakawea are in the most prolific part of the Bakken oilfield, but disputes over riverbed mineral ownership have led to multiple lawsuits and disagreements between the state and federal government.
BISMARCK — North Dakota oil production dropped about 1 percent in November but stayed slightly above 1 million barrels per day, the Department of Mineral Resources said Friday, Jan. 13. Average oil production declined about 10,000 barrels per day in November to an average 1.03 million barrels a day, the preliminary figures show. Mild November weather contributed to an increase in well completions that month, said Director Lynn Helms.
BISMARCK — A bill that would raise the threshold for reporting oil spills got mixed reviews Thursday, Jan. 12, with proponents saying it would improve government efficiency while opponents advocated for more transparency. The House Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard about two hours of testimony on House Bill 1151, which would exempt companies from reporting spills that are contained on a production site that are less than 10 barrels, or 420 gallons.
BISMARCK — Morton County landowners who claim Dakota Access LLC deceived them into accepting an unfair price for pipeline easements are seeking more than $4 million in damages in a federal lawsuit. A group of landowners claims in a U.S. District Court case that Dakota Access agents harassed, threatened and intimidated them and used fraud and misleading statements to secure a lower price in exchange for allowing the pipeline to cross their land.
WASHINGTON - The online classified advertising site Backpage.com shut down its "adult" section this week hours after a Congressional report accused the website of knowingly facilitating sex trafficking. Many involved in the fight against human trafficking celebrated the removal of the adult ads Tuesday, Jan. 10, but acknowledged the sex-for-sale ads would migrate elsewhere.
BISMARCK — The leader of the oil-rich Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation threatened to leave the oil tax agreement with North Dakota on Tuesday, Jan. 10, during a legislative hearing that brought up unresolved conflicts over how the state shares oil tax revenue with the tribe. “We are not bluffing. Oil industry, please, take that back,” Chairman Mark Fox said during a meeting of the House Finance and Taxation Committee. “We’ll roll the dice on what that means for production on Fort Berthold.”
BISMARCK — Key cities in North Dakota's Oil Patch are poised for additional growth as oil prices recover and will require more funding to meet the needs of a growing population, according to a new study. The growth, though, is expected to be at a more modest pace compared with recent years, said the study presented to state legislators Monday, Jan. 9.
BISMARCK — As snow continues to pile up across North Dakota, the National Weather Service is monitoring how much water content is in that snow to prepare for the spring flood outlook. This weekend, aircraft from the National Observational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center will fly over parts of the state using high-tech instrumentation to provide data to the Weather Service, said Bismarck hydrologist Allen Schlag. "Not all snow is created equal," Schlag said. "I'm always way more interested in how much water is in the snow as opposed to the depth of the snow."
BISMARCK — Continental Resources has agreed to pay a $7,500 fine to settle a complaint that the oil company couldn't locate underground pipelines in southwest North Dakota, one of three fines issued Wednesday, Jan. 4, by the Public Service Commission. Commissioner Brian Kalk said the fine should serve as a signal to the industry that operators need to be able to locate underground facilities or face violations of the North Dakota One-Call law.
BELCOURT, N.D. — At St. Ann's Catholic School on the Turtle Mountain Reservation, volunteer principal Allen Mehrer also serves as music teacher, evening bus driver, maintenance worker and occasional custodian. The school relies on volunteers and a handful of paid teachers who give new meaning to the word multi-tasking in order to provide a free Catholic education to elementary students on the reservation. "Because of the economics here at Turtle Mountain, we don't want to close the door to any child," Mehrer said. "And we would be by charging people."