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Normally we think that the airline data for February is sort of ho-hum. But this year there is something to comment on at least. That is, the total boardings for February exceeded 100,000 passengers. That is the first time that has ever happened, and it is a substantial increase from as recently as five years ago.

Of course the weather maybe had something to do with it. People wanted to get away this winter. But the main reason, the big change for North Dakota is oil. Oil has changed North Dakota in ways that we could not have imagined even those five years ago. North Dakota is a mainstream and highly important state of the U.S.

Just think how what has happened here has lessened the impact of the recession. Remember, it is not just in this state, but it is all the industrial production that took place across the United States because of the Bakken. Building all those pipes, all the airline trips, even all the extra calories consumed in the United States because of the hard working people.

As for my comments, not much different than last month. Minot again is down because they are post flood activity and Williston has a lot more flights than two years ago. So too Dickinson.

Devils Lake and Jamestown no longer have airline service until this summer, and we still exceeded 100,000 passengers.

Now we need at least another month to see what depth the economic change will take. Let’s hope our politicians provide the leadership this country needs.

 

Well the weather has kept us from the million barrel mark to the point of this report, but it wouldn’t surprise me if March is the month. In any case, it will happen soon, real soon.

We see how the weather has affected us. The rig count was down from December to January and the well completion number was nearly only one half-119 to 60. This was a tough winter, and there is no guarantee it is over yet.

According to Lynn Helms there were only three days in January too cold for fracking, but there were 12 days too windy for well completion work. Twelve days, that is 40 percent of the month gone because of the wind.

We are beginning to see the federal governments plans for fracking on federal land. BLM published proposed rules and they received 177,000 comments. Don’t know what the rules said and I don’t know what the comments said, but the BLM withdrew the rules. That gives me an idea of the direction of what they were saying.

They then issued a new proposed rule last May with the comment period ending in August. That rule brought 1.2 million comments. Next week the Department of Interior is holding a meeting in Denver to “continue dialogue on implementation of the rules”. They are also starting the process of new venting and flaring regulations.

North Dakota has said from the beginning of this that it would be the federal government that would stop this oil activity. Now we will see. The time is here.

In the meantime here is the production for the middle of the winter. Pretty good I think. Where we go from here is up to us as a nation. I have included a new section comparing the different oil patches around the country. Proves how important the Bakken-Three Forks is.

 

Of course it had to happen. Even those guys out on the oil rigs had to shut down for some parts of December in that terrible weather. Just saw a report calling it Williston’s fifth worse winter. Not sure how it was measured, but as for me, I think it ranked even worse than that. In my life I don’t remember anytime where there has been so many difficult days in a row, nor anytime where there were so few decent days over even a short period of less than a week.

The result: a minor decline in production from November to December’s production. Of course January could show the same, and possibly so too February. But they are only hiccups. Even as I write this the weather forecasts include temperatures into the 30s.

This will be the year we should be able to understand just what this oil play will mean for the long run, at least for the Bakken and Three Forks. Of course if the new plays develop we will also maybe see some of those start to come in, too. Although when that happens it seems to me that with the lessons learned this time we will not see the “Wild West” approach that this has been.

And as I mentioned last month we continue to see the activity move from the original five most active counties into the southern area where a lot of the excitement is now in the Dickinson area.and north towards Watford City. The quiet area that may surprise a lot of people this year may be around Bottineau. It will certainly be something we should watch.

 

Not much to write about concerning the jobs in the northern plains for December 2013 if you have been paying attention over the past three years. North Dakota leads the nation in the unemployment rate. That is, it has the lowest unemployment in the nation. As we enter the winter months there is a slight increase in the amount of unemployment. There are times it is nearly impossible to work under the situation that exists. We all know that and in fact it is expected.

Actually the surprising thing is that the amount of work that gets done gets done. We think the weather man overplays the wind chill, but we know how it is all but impossible to be out in those conditions up on one of those rigs.

So, we see a small increase in unemployment for two or so months and then as things moderate some through March we get moving again. Just watch.

So, we will have that seasonal slowdown and soon we will be back at it. So too will the ranchers with their early calves. Just watch. It is our history. They are a tough bunch whether it is calving, or fracking. Couldn’t be a better place for it to have happened.

 

There isn’t much to say about the oil production report for this month except I think it is impressive considering the weather. Of course it is relatively early in the winter, October and November. I guess we need to wait a couple of months and see what is happening in January. It must be tough to be out there even on the best of days.

When we think of the oil spill near Tioga apparently caused by a lightning strike and now the huge propane pipeline explosion in Canada a week ago we need to realize what these companies go through in order to get energy to the consumers. Can you imagine what it is like to be out there repairing a pipeline like they had to do this past week, but then there were people out in the oil patch working on all the North Dakota production. At least I never read any article about work being called off because of the weather.

I have also been thinking about the people in the Oil and Gas Division as critics of this state’s success have been becoming more and more vocal. What these dedicated state employees have accomplished with a minimum of problems in the most active oil development in the world speaks to the quality of the employees and the work they have done. As attitudes began to change about the speed of this development I hope we remember these people were simply doing their jobs and these personal attacks are not fair, nor justified. Oppose the policy if that is your philosophy, but don’t attack these people unfairly.

Anyway, here is the report.