Building through the bust: Southwest ND oilfield service company leaders say they’re using 2015 slowdown to improve their businesses

MBI Energy Services CEO and founder Jim Arthaud stands by one of his trucks on Oct. 8, 2015, at his company’s Belfield headquarters. (Dustin Monke / The Dickinson Press)
MBI Energy Services CEO and founder Jim Arthaud stands by one of his trucks on Oct. 8, 2015, at his company’s Belfield headquarters. (Dustin Monke / The Dickinson Press)

Jim Arthaud doesn’t look like a man at the helm of a multimillion-dollar oilfield services company.

Wearing a T-shirt and baseball cap with blue jeans, he sits in the office of his senior vice president and watches The Weather Channel while discussing the price of oil.

“Oil’s up today,” he says with a smile. “It’s about at $50. It’s only got $50 to go.”

The 60-year-old CEO and founder of MBI Energy Services follows that statement with a smile and laughter, knowing all too well the price for a barrel of crude oil isn’t doubling anytime soon.

That Arthaud can joke about the price of oil is a telling sign that not all is doom and gloom in the western North Dakota oilfields — at least not yet. Still, following eight years of substantial growth tied directly to the Bakken oil boom, Arthaud looks back on the past 10 months — a unique type of oil bust, as he puts it — and knows he should have seen these days coming.

“I’d say it surprised a lot of people and it surprised me,” he said. “It was definitely a dramatic downturn that a lot of people didn’t see. Obviously, the writing was on the wall. We all should have seen it.”

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Officials say 99.9 percent of oil spilled contained to well pad

By Dustin Monke and Amy Dalrymple

WHITE EARTH, N.D. — The amount of oil and brine recovered from an oil well near the White Earth River reached 756,000 gallons Tuesday, though officials said 99.9 percent of the contamination was contained to the well pad.

An estimated 18,000 barrels of oil and brine water has been recovered so far, but the total amount spilled is still under investigation, said Department of Mineral Resources spokeswoman Alison Ritter.

“It’s a moving target,” Ritter said.

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'Significant' oil, brine spill affects White Earth River in Mountrail County

Submitted Photo Absorbent booms are seen in the White Earth River north of where an oil well spilled thousands of barrels of oil and brine water over the weekend and into Monday.
Submitted Photo
Absorbent booms are seen in the White Earth River north of where an oil well spilled thousands of barrels of oil and brine water over the weekend and into Monday.

 

 

 

 

WHITE EARTH, N.D. — An oil well in Mountrail County that has been out of control since late Saturday night leaked oil and brine water into the nearby White Earth River, but has since been contained to the well pad, a North Dakota Department of Health spokesperson said Monday.

Bill Suess, spill investigations program manager for the Department of Health, said about 1,760 barrels of oil and 2,000 barrels of brine water had been recovered from the Oasis Petroleum North America well site by 5 p.m. CDT Sunday, but that as of 3:30 p.m. Monday, the company hadn’t regained full control of the well.

“It’s a significant leak,” Suess said, adding, “flow from the well had diminished by a third” since the leak was first reported.

Oasis reportedly lost control of the well, about 15 miles south of White Earth and less than 5 river miles north of Lake Sakakawea, about 11 p.m. Saturday. Oasis said in a statement that there were no injuries.

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Theater ownership still planning expansion outside of mall

The Cine 3 theatre is shown Tuesday in the Prairie Hills Mall in Dickinson.
The Cine 3 theatre is shown Tuesday in the Prairie Hills Mall in Dickinson.

The company that runs the Cine 3 theatre in the Prairie Hills Mall says it’s getting closer to building its own facility, but that it’s more than a year away from making any such move.

Odyssey Entertainment, based in the Twin Cities suburb of Maple Grove, Minn., said while it has a long-term lease with the mall’s ownership group, the company continues to actively search for development sites in the city because it hopes to build at least an eight-screen stand-alone theater.

“We’re seeking alternative options, and we have plans to redevelop a theatre,” said Bryan Sieve, head of development for Odyssey. “It won’t be at the mall.”

Since coming to Dickinson in January 2012 and replacing Carmike Cinemas, Sieve said Odyssey has made it known that while the company is happy with the amount of business it brings in at its three-screen location, its longterm plans are to grow and the mall facility won’t allow for that.
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The dark problem with our parks

Growing up, I always heard rumors and stories about Dickinson parks at night. “That’s where kids go to make out and people go to get high.” Back then, teenage me laughed at that because, of course, I didn’t really care. Whatever you can get away with, I often thought. Now that my family lives across the street from one of Dickinson’s largest public parks, I don’t find it so funny.

I called the Dickinson Police Department three times this summer and made similar calls last summer after witnessing what appear to be drug deals and other suspicious activity taking place in my neighborhood’s park after dark.

One call to police a month ago prompted an officer to drive by and eventually get out of his car to look for two men who had been sitting in one of the park’s many darkened areas for more than an hour. By the time he got there, they were already gone. I watched as they fl ed on foot as the officer rolled by.

This spring, I was one of the three people who called 911 after finding a severely beaten man who’d been thrown out of a vehicle and onto a street in the middle of a Saturday afternoon as a dozen bystanders enjoyed a warm day in the park.

Many of those bystanders were children. Some were just yards away.

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Dickinson mayor Dennis Johnson to resign at end of October

Dickinson’s mayor of more than 15 years said he is resigning at the end of the month.

Dennis Johnson
Dennis Johnson

Dennis Johnson, who has overseen the city’s growth since well before the start of the Bakken oil boom, said Monday during a regular city commission meeting that his position on the MDU Resources Group board of directors has created a conflict that is forcing him to choose between either remaining Dickinson’s city commission president or keeping his spot on MDU’s board.

“The annual amount of business between the City of Dickinson and MDU Resources and its subsidiaries is reaching an amount that exceeds the standards set by the New York Stock Exchange, and would result in me being designated a non-independent director,”
Johnson said at the meeting while reading from a prepared statement.
“If I am no longer an independent director, I have to leave the MDU Resources board. I prefer to remain on the MDU Resources board.”
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Editorial: New DSU president must bring pride, people back

Congratulations and welcome to Thomas Mitzel, the next president of Dickinson State University. Mitzel will become the newest leader in our community when he takes office in January, and a leader he will very much need to be.

Expectations have never been higher for an incoming DSU president. Mitzel will not only be expected to increase enrollment rather quickly, but also help the university establish a new and trustworthy alumni foundation, all while improving community relations.

We, and the rest of the community, want and expect DSU to return to its glory days. But there’s much Mitzel and his new staff must do before that happens.

He should listen to the needs of his faculty and staff, and weed out those who believe the status quo is the only way to go. He must convince the most hardheaded at his school that there are better ways of doing business than by ignoring problems and then wondering why problems linger for years.

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