State Leaders React to EPA`s Oversight of ND Oil Patch Issues | VideoBrian Howell | 12/27/2011
State regulators unveiled new quarterly results for the energy industry at last week`s Industrial Commission meeting, and they`re pretty impressive.
North Dakota`s oil boom keeps picking up speed.
"We`ve got drilling permits that are up 300 over this time last year and our oil production is nearly 500,000 barrels of oil a day, which is also up significantly," Bruce Hicks, assistant director of the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division.
Oil prices are up, and North Dakota`s rig count of about 200 is very strong and holding steady.
But not everything is rosy, particularly the industry`s burning off of excess natural gas.
Hicks said, "Flaring is up from what it has been the last few months, but we are having four or five plants that are going to be online here within about a year and they`ve invested about $3.5 billion in constructing those plants, and our flaring should come down very significantly in the near future."
All in all, things look positive for the state`s energy industry, but an EPA study of hydraulic fracking is a cause for concern.
"We don`t really know what might come out or the timing of when it comes out, but we are carefully watching and monitoring that," said Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources.
The EPA recently announced a potential connection between hydraulic fracking and water contamination at a study site in Wyoming, but North Dakota leaders are skeptical of the draft report.
Helms said: "We`ve gone through the report. We have some questions about the methodology, and some questions about whether the results really are what has been made public."
State leaders also point out that drilling conditions are much different in North Dakota.
"We`re going to make sure that people can come invest in North Dakota and continue to produce energy, do it safely, and well, but continue to invest and do business here," said Sen. John Hoeven.
State leaders are also fighting EPA efforts to federally regulate the management of regional haze emissions from power plants. Right now, North Dakota has primary responsibility.