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Williston Basin [North Dakota] sets pace for sales of oil, gas leases
Associated Press via The Billings Gazette ^ | February 03, 2006 | Associated Press

Posted on 02/03/2006 12:25:33 PM PST by BigSkyFreeper

BISMARCK, N.D. -- Federal oil and gas lease sales in the Dakotas and Montana set a record in fiscal year 2005, with parcels in western North Dakota's booming oil patch garnering the overwhelming bulk of interest, the Bureau of Land Management says.

Oil and gas lease sales totaled slightly more than $36 million for the three-state region in the fiscal year, with North Dakota accounting for $35.1 million, the BLM said Thursday. Montana had $785,000 in leases, while South Dakota tallied $62,485.

Most lease sales in the three-state region have occurred on U.S. Forest Service land in western North Dakota's Williston Basin, said Karen Johnson, who head's BLM's oil and gas leasing division in Billings.

"Interest in the Williston Basin across the nation is phenomenal," said Ron Ness, director of the North Dakota Petroleum Council.

Ness was attending an oil industry conference on Thursday in Houston. He said North Dakota's oil patch is far from a secret.

"Everyone I'm talking to says it's amazing," Ness said. The Williston Basin "is right at the top for places to explore in the U.S. People from all over the world know it's hot and everybody wants in."

Oil and gas lease sales in fiscal 2004 for the three states was $3.9 million, with North Dakota's share totaling $2.9 million. In fiscal year 2003, lease sales totaled just $258,700, with $229,183 coming from Montana. North Dakota contributed just $29,600 to the total in fiscal 2003. South Dakota had no lease sales during that period, the BLM said.

Larry Melvin, mineral manager for the U.S. Forest Service, said some 946,000 acres of federal grasslands in western North Dakota became available for leasing after an environmental assessment was completed in 2003. About 827,300 acres are now leased, he said.

Revenues from the oil and gas leases are shared by the federal government and the state or county where the parcels are located, the BLM said.

Ness said a state oil and gas lease sale next week is expected to draw big interest from companies. Oil and gas leases on state-owned land already are at the highest level in 25 years, officials said.

North Dakota has 37 drill rigs operating in the oil patch now, said Bruce Hicks, North Dakota's Oil and Gas Division assistant director. The state's oil production was about 110,000 barrels a day in November, the latest figures available, he said. The state's oil patch peaked at 145,000 barrels a day in the early 1980s.

The BLM said its latest bimonthly oil and gas lease sale in Billings topped $5.7 million.

WhitMar Exploration Co. of Denver submitted a $560,000 bid for leasing rights on a 640-acre Forest Service parcel in North Dakota's McKenzie County, the highest bid of Tuesday's sale.

Of the 121 parcels offered, 77 were in Montana, 28 in North Dakota and 16 in South Dakota.

Five parcels in South Dakota and 39 parcels in Montana received no bids, the BLM said. All of North Dakota's parcels received bids.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Montana; US: North Dakota; US: South Dakota
KEYWORDS: energy; gasoline; oil

1 posted on 02/03/2006 12:25:35 PM PST by BigSkyFreeper
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To: BigSkyFreeper

Mrs. Renfield and I spent a night in Williston on the way out to Montana in '89. The phone book there listed Pizza Hut as an "ethnic restaurant".


2 posted on 02/03/2006 12:37:43 PM PST by Renfield (If Gene Tracy was the entertainment at your senior prom, YOU might be a redneck...)
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To: BigSkyFreeper
In other North Dakota news, the city of Minot has changed its name to Mecca, and John Hoeven has been seen wearing robes.
3 posted on 02/03/2006 12:40:33 PM PST by GOP_Party_Animal
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To: Renfield

HAH! Pizza Hut is an Italian restaurant in Williston. :)


4 posted on 02/03/2006 12:40:49 PM PST by BigSkyFreeper (Proud to be a cotton-pickin' Republican on the GOP Plantation)
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To: GOP_Party_Animal

Hey! This is actually news! These oil patches have been sitting dormant for a couple decades. Rigs have been churning away for about a year or two now, and they're expanding the oil pipeline.


5 posted on 02/03/2006 12:42:36 PM PST by BigSkyFreeper (Proud to be a cotton-pickin' Republican on the GOP Plantation)
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To: GOP_Party_Animal

In still more North Dakota news, a NoDak (GOP_Party_Animal) has been indicted in state court for Telling a NoDak Joke.

He's awaiting further charges for Unbelievably Lame Jokes In A Public Place.

His attorney said that he is expected to plead diminished capacity to all charges because of his admitted work as an engineer.


6 posted on 02/03/2006 1:42:45 PM PST by Unrepentant VN Vet (I can't really accept a welcome home until the last MIA does.)
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To: Unrepentant VN Vet

Quiet, you dog, before I declare a Fargo fatwa on your ass!


7 posted on 02/03/2006 3:06:10 PM PST by GOP_Party_Animal
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To: GOP_Party_Animal

Fargo? Oh, yeah........that's the one with ten thousand camelloads of fleas infesting my riding lawnmower or something........

Last time I looked, the futures on freezedried fleas on the Fargo market were closed because of a lack of import shipments. I guess you'll have to find a different curse.


8 posted on 02/03/2006 3:44:12 PM PST by Unrepentant VN Vet (I can't really accept a welcome home until the last MIA does.)
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