New Regs go Into Effect for Oil Producers

After weeks of controversy, the North Dakota Industrial commission, Dec. 9, implemented new crude oil conditioning that will impact about 45 percent of the existing well tank batteries, enforced by a new army of field inspectors and higher costs for operators.

The new regulatory regime is in response to public pressure regarding two unit trains involved in accidents, last year, resulting in explosions of Bakken crude oil they were carrying. Neither accident was caused by the crude oil.

North Dakota now becomes the first state to implement such standards and require conditioning of crude oil up to a vapor pressure of 13.7 psi (pounds per square inch).

Technology at Christmas

According to a Holiday Media Survey conducted by KRC Research and Verizon Wireless, consumers are using mobile devices to connect with family, shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and celebrate the holidays.

Key findings revealed revealed:

—81% of smartphone users will wish someone a happy holiday over text message; 35% will do so via video chat.

—86% say that they feel closer to friends and family due to smartphones.

Billings, Tenth Best Beer City

While it may be no surprise to locals, Billings is among the ten best beer cities in the US.

Billings was ranked in tenth place by Livability, a company that explores what makes small to medium sized cities great places to live.

The top beer town is Bend, Oregon.

"Billings offers innovative and award-winning breweries, residents who consume beer at higher rates than the average American, sophisticated beer tastes and a high quality of life for beer lovers," said a press release announcing the distinction.

MDU to Purchase Wind Farm


Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., a division of MDU Resources Group will purchase a North Dakota wind farm to be developed by ALLETE Clean Energy, a subsidiary of ALLETE, Inc.

The wind project, located near Hettinger, N.D., and comprised of 43 turbines producing 107.5 megawatts of electricity, is anticipated to be completed in December 2015. The project's cost is approximately $200 million and the purchase is subject to regulatory approvals.

New Regulations in ND will Place Greater Pressure on Oil Production


Some North Dakota Bakken-by-rail players - already facing narrow arbitrage margins - may take another hit to the pocketbook this spring from adding costs to remove light hydrocarbons from the crude before loading it onto trains.

Oil companies have until April 1, 2015 to begin extracting light hydrocarbons or natural gas liquids from Bakken crude before shipping, according to the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC).

Even though recent rail accidents were attributable to other factors, the NDIC wrote new rules "as a matter of safety," said an executive summary. The focus of the regulations is to reduce the vapor pressure of crude oil and hence its volatility.

Changing Economic Trends Important For Montana Decision-Makers

Montana's overall economy is going to be "hard pressed" to hit the three percent growth mark forecasted for it by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, reports Patrick M. Barkey, who heads that agency at the University of Montana.

The boom which Montana has been experiencing is showing signs of slowing, said Barkey in a report in the Montana Business Quarterly. The new trends will be important factors for state decision-makers, he said.

At the beginning of the year, the Bureau projected a growth rate of three percent for Montana in its annual Economic Outlook series of seminars, but that may have been too optimistic.

US Energy Security Risks Assessed

The 2014 edition of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy's Index of U.S. Energy Security Risk continues to show positive trends for America's energy security—thanks largely to increased oil and gas production—but warning signs remain.

This year's index is the fifth annual edition of the Energy Institute's groundbreaking tool, which tracks 37 individual metrics in four primary areas from 1970-2014. As the index shows, America's energy security risk dropped to 87.4 in 2013—the first time the score has been below 90 since 2004, and a 5 percent reduction in risk from 2012.

Plastic Plant Planned in ND

Two locations outside of the western North Dakota oilfields are under consideration for a proposed $4 billion polyethylene manufacturing plant that will use ethane as the main feedstock for its plastics production.

Badlands NGL, LLC, which will be based in Denver, said the location needs to be 1.5 square miles, and when completed in three years, the plant is projected to produce 1.5 million tons of polyethelyne annually. The company is also looking at the installation of a pipeline from existing processing plants to the manufacturing site.

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