Tyler formation proved tough to tap into

Graphic courtesy of Timothy Nesheim, North Dakota Geological Survey
Graphic courtesy of Timothy Nesheim, North Dakota Geological Survey

AMIDON — Hydraulic fracturing of the Tyler shale formation was expected to liven the sleepy plains of Slope County with oil activity.

But more than two years after the first well was spudded, three horizontal wells drilled by Marathon Oil Co. between September and December of 2013 have proven economically unfeasible and are now abandoned. A permit for a fourth well has been canceled.

The challenging geology of the play combined with the steep drop in oil prices kept Marathon from setting off another shale play in western North Dakota, said Timothy Nesheim, a subsurface geologist with the state Geological Survey.

Nesheim said the first two Tyler test wells “produced oil at rates too low to be economical at nearly any oil price.”

It’s a sharp change from September 2013, when Marathon estimated it could produce about 1.6 million barrels of oil equivalent from four test wells it had received permits to drill.

The wells produced 4,471 barrels of oil and 5.2 million cubic feet of natural gas, all of it coming from the Rundle Trust 29-21H and Powell 31-27TH wells, according to state Department of Mineral Resources Oil and Gas Division data.

Nesheim said the Rundle well — one of two drilled on a pad — had an initial 24-hour production rate of 88 barrels of oil per day and stabilized at just 7 bpd “for several months before it was plugged and abandoned.” By comparison, Bakken wells are producing an average of 117 barrels a day so far in 2015, according to Oil and Gas Division data.

Even at oil prices of $80 to $100 a barrel, the well’s production rate was about 5 to 10 percent of what it needed to be economical, he said.

“We had our hopes up. It looked good,” said Ken Urlacher, who farms and ranches on the Rundle land and takes care of the landowner’s cattle operation. “Obviously, if it didn’t look good, they wouldn’t have spent all the money in it and put the tanks on it.”

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After a year of plenty, Dickinson’s independent retail businesses prepare for more normal year-end sales

Out of Town owner and manager Brooke Leno, left, helps employee Chloe Jazvic as she helps a customer and Melissa Moos folds clothing on Friday, Nov. 29, 2015, at the store in the Prairie Hills Mall in Dickinson, N.D. (Dustin Monke / The Dickinson Press)
Out of Town owner and manager Brooke Leno, left, helps employee Chloe Jazvic as she helps a customer and Melissa Moos folds clothing on Friday, Nov. 29, 2015, at the store in the Prairie Hills Mall in Dickinson, N.D. (Dustin Monke / The Dickinson Press)

Holidays can make or break the profit margins of small retail businesses.

In Dickinson, the time carries even greater meaning for relatively new businesses — especially those that sprang up in recent years around the promise of the burgeoning energy industry and population growth, only to see commerce wane in the wake of the industry’s slowdown.

“In general, business is slower,” said Brooke Leno, manager of Out of Town and Out of Town Kids in the Prairie Hills Mall. “People aren’t coming in and dropping a bunch of money like they used to. They’re being more strategic about their purchases. It’s nothing that’s going to make or break us. It’s definitely slower and you can tell. But it seems like the last few days, people are getting into that Christmas shopping.”

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Stenehjem makes campaign stop in for Dickinson

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North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem touted his nearly four decades of political experience working with the state’s agriculture and energy industry Wednesday in Dickinson as part of his campaign seeking the Republican nomination for governor.

Stenehjem geared much of his 20-minute speech to a small but friendly crowd gathered at the West River Community Center around topics important to western North Dakotans — agriculture, oil and education.

“We also have to emphasize that North Dakota, more than ever, is truly a part of a global marketplace,” Stenehjem said. “We must redouble our efforts to secure global sales of all of our farm and energy commodities. If there is one thing we’ve learned, it’s the importance of diversifying our economy. We’re doing that in marvelous ways and we can do more.”

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Kat Perkins holding Christmas concert in Dickinson Nov. 30

Kat Perkins said her latest tour has been “years and years in the making,” and being able to squeeze in an show in Dickinson is the bow on top of her Christmas gift to fans.

As part of her Christmas concert tour throughout North Dakota and Minnesota, Perkins will hit the stage at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, at the Astoria Hotel and Event Center ballroom as the highlight of a formal event that begins at 6:30 p.m. that includes a social and dinner for $100 a ticket.

“I’m so excited to finally be doing a Christmas tour,” said Perkins, who grew up in Scranton.

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Dakota Prairie Refinery posts losses, MDU Resources puts second refinery on hold

 

MDU Resources’ plans for a second refinery in North Dakota are being put on hold after a volatile mix of market conditions — largely paced by low oil prices — led the Dakota Prairie Refinery west of Dickinson to post larger-than-expected losses in 2015.

The company said in late 2014 that it had planned to build a second greenfield refinery in Minot. In its latest capital investment report filed Nov. 17 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, MDU Resources stated capital expenses for a second refinery had been removed from its forecast as it “focuses on optimizing its current refinery investment.”

“Once we reach the point where we can sit back and say this (the Dakota Prairie Refinery) is an optimized facility and it’s producing like we want it to be, then we’ll look at expansion,” MDU Resources public relations manager Tim Rasmussen said Thursday.

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Bismarck homicide suspect found dead in park

LITTLE MISSOURI STATE PARK — The suspect in a Bismarck homicide was found dead by apparent suicide in the Little Missouri State Park north of Killdeer early Monday morning.

Dunn County Sheriff Clay Coker said the body of Kirk Kwasniewski, 35, was found in an open-air pavilion about 50 yards from where his vehicle had been located earlier by a deputy following a 911 hangup.

At 1:09 a.m. Monday, a Bismarck woman living on the 600 block of North 22nd Street, called police to report Kwasniewski was in her home threatening her with a gun. She found her boyfriend, 30-year-old Caine Fischer, of Bismarck, dead in the home. She told police Kwasniewski had fled.

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Is the answer blowing in the wind?

Would you put a 350-foot wind turbine on your land?

That’s the question my dad was asked by a representative of NextEra Energy Resources not long after the company expressed interest in leasing a small corner of land in an area owned by our family about 2½ miles west of our farm.

The turbine would be part of the Brady Wind Energy Center II project NextEra plans to stretch across northern Hettinger County as a complementary project to the larger Brady Wind Energy Center I proposed for southern Stark County.

My dad promptly asked me the same question and others. “What do you know about the company?” And, “What do you think we should do?”

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