Serving The Bakken And Beyond

Fort Berthold Pipeline Route Delays Hamper ND Production

The continued delays in getting right-of-way approval on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation is one of several issues plaguing ND operators, who were forced to cut back on production in June to comply with statewide flaring restrictions.

“Industry has tapped the brakes,” Helms said after reporting the June oil production dropped 2% from May to 1,225,510 BOPD. “Right-of-way is difficult to obtain.”

One natural gas processor had to wait 455 days to get a pipeline route approved, while the normal approval time ranges between six and nine months, Helms said.

Ron Ness, president of the ND Petroleum Council, blamed the delays on the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and said he has taken the industry’s case to the US Interior Department.

Moreover, the bigger issues are getting enough workers and bringing gas plants on line, Ness said. “Once again, production has outpaced any expectations,” he said. “One pipeline company said it needed 100 workers, and they are only getting 30.”

In response to questions from Oil Patch Hotline, Helms said the state has no intention of taking legal action against tribal authorities over the continuing delays in right-of-way approval.

In June, 86 wells were completed, 993 were waiting on completion, and the inactive well count dropped by 111 to 1,458.

The number of drilling rigs has dropped by eight from June to July. “Operators have shifted from running the minimum number of rigs to incremental increases and decreases based on gas capture, completion crew availability, and oil price,” Helms said.