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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

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SIDNEY HERALD

Montana continues to be near top for oil production BY GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER

We can all be proud of the fact that over the last five years Montana continues to have one of the highest rates of growth in oil production in the nation and has developed more new electrical energy generation than in the previous 16 years combined. Richland County has been a strong part of the state’s economic growth, and will continue to do so with enhanced oil and gas production and now wind energy generation as well. So significant are the energy resources in this area that a cross-border energy park has been proposed that would encompass Sidney and Williston, N.D. The Mon-Dak Energy Alliance, a consortium of energy companies, is poised to strengthen our diversified energy economy by focusing on wind generation, biofuel production and a 100,000 barrel per day oil refinery. Also under consideration

is a coal-to-liquid facility. Estimated investment on the proposed oil refinery alone is $2.5 billion. The Sidney economy would benefit greatly with high-wage jobs and significant tax revenues. I stand ready to assist in any way possible to make this a reality. Wind developers from around the world are taking serious notice of Montana. This summer, an Idaho-based wind company began testing wind speeds in the Fairview area for a possible wind farm. Also this summer, Harvard University released a study that shows Montana second only to Texas when it comes to wind energy potential. But with any new energy development, we also need new and expanding infrastructure such as transmission lines and pipelines. That’s where TransCanada comes in. This company currently has four proposed infrastructure projects

SUBMITTED

Gov. Brian Schweitzer says he will assist in any way possible to help make an energy park in the region a reality.

SEE GOVERNOR | PAGE 3

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Governor: Many energy projects occuring in state FROM PAGE 2

‘I am proud of

that are key to advancing Montana’s energy economy. The Chinook project is a major high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line linking low-cost traditional and renewable generation with growing loads in Nevada, Arizona and California. The line will be carry approximately 3,000 MW and represents an investment of nearly $2 billion. TransCanada also announced last summer the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline through Montana from Alberta to Nebraska.When constructed, this 36 inch crude oil pipeline should ease transport capacity and increase the bottom line for Montana producers, and add nearly $1 billion in investment right here in Mon-

Richland County...’ Brian Schweitzer Governor tana. Once constructed, the Keystone XL will generate $50-60 million annually in state and local property tax revenues alone. Strong economic development efforts and valuable natural resources have allowed Montana to attract many new energy projects across the state, from wind farms and transmission, to coal production, to pipeline expansions. Nowhere is this great opportunity more apparent than in Richland County, where we find the nation’s most abundant coal reserves, the Bakken oil formation and wind

speeds conducive to power generation. Clearly, oil and natural gas production are bright spots in the Montana economy, and they will continue to be instrumental to the nation’s energy supply. I am proud of Richland County, and I am proud of the work we’ve done together to increase oil production. I look forward to many more years of successes as we continue to capitalize on value-adding opportunities in the energy sector. If you have ideas about how we can improve the energy industry, oil production, wind generation or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can reach me at governor@mt.gov or by phone at 406-444-3111. And if you are ever in Helena, please stop by – my door is always open.

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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

Tappin’ the bakken fall edition

SIDNEY HERALD

Graph provided by Jim Halvorson, Montana Board of Oil and Gas

Baucus says Montana is blessed with great natural treasures BY U.S. SEN. MAX BAUCUS

Eastern Montanans from Sidney to Alzada know why Montana is called the Big Sky State. While we appreciate the beauty of our wide open spaces, we are also blessed with treasures below our feet. Under the rich soils of eastern Montana, the accumulation of billions of barrels of oil reserves makes it crystal clear why Montana is also called the Treasure State. Drilling for our natural treasures provides good paying jobs and large tax revenues to Richland County and the state of Montana. Our oil producers have led the way in developing innovative oil recovery techniques that give us more bang for

our energy buck. I appreciate the contributions of the hard working men and women on Montana oil fields. With demands for oil keeping steady, eastern Montana will continue to play a major role in the Baucus energy future of our country. The United States imports about 60 percent of its petroleum, an increase from 42 percent in 1990. And while our nation holds only about 3 percent of world oil reserves, every barrel of production from eastern Montana helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

We will continue to rely on fossil fuels to a large extent, for years to come. And we should make the most of Montana’s vast coal and oil resources, by producing them in a responsible way. Fortunately, Montana’s fossil industries are positioned to complement one another. In addition to the billions of barrels of recoverable oil in eastern Montana’s Bakken Formation, we also have the United States’ largest coal reserves. That’s why I support technology to provide incentives for CO2 capture and sequestration. I wrote a bill that provides a tax credit of between $10 and $20 for CO2 that’s captured and stored, either for oil recovery or in permanent geologic storage. Ideally, this CO2 would be pro-

duced from coal combustion in places like Colstrip, and shipped to eastern Montana for use in oil recovery. Of course, Montana isn’t the only place in the United States to find oil – or the only place where Montana-born technologies can boost efficiency. That’s why I have consistently voted in favor of drilling for oil and gas off the Gulf Coast and other domestic areas. Together, we will protect Montana’s outdoor heritage, while creating good paying jobs and securing Montana’s vital energy industries. Max Baucus is Montana’s senior U.S. senator. He is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. He can be reached at 800-332-6106.


Tappin’ the bakken fall edition

SIDNEY HERALD

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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

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Tappin’ the bakken fall edition

SIDNEY HERALD

BILL VANDER WEELE | SIDNEY HERALD

Sidney Mayor Bret Smelser, left, explains oil activity in the area to BBC’s Kevin Connolly and Doreen Walton.

Oil activity receives international attention BY BILL VANDER WEELE SIDNEY HERALD

With the desire to learn about eastern Montana’s oil success, two members of the BBC, British Broadcasting Corporation, held radio interviews in Richland County Oct. 12. Doreen Walton, BBC Washington producer, and Kevin Connolly, BBC North America correspondent, talked to Sidney Mayor Bret Smelser, farmer/mineral rights owner Scott Staffanson and Footers owner Bill Ackley. Smelser also took the crew out to Elm Coulee and an oil rig site. Connolly said the radio crew just finished an assignment regarding farming in North Dakota and thought the oil industry in Montana would also interest viewers. “Part of what we want to do is reflect some parts of

America that Europeans probably won’t see,” Connolly said. He noted the program will be heard in more than 100 countries and translated in about 30 languages. He urged residents to check out the BBC Web site for information. After staying in Medora, N.D., the previous night, Walton and Connolly stated they were impressed by the beauty of the MonDak region. “We feel Montana would be a very interesting place to live at,” Connolly said. He added there’s much interest in the Bakken in many parts of the world. “It will give us a sense of how the industry is working and what opportunities there are in the future.” In his office, Smelser explained the oil field to the crew. He also discussed renewable energy and the potential of having an oil refinery in the region.

Connolly noted that a refinery would benefit the area for a much longer time than an average boom would exist. “That’s the whole point,” Smelser said. The mayor said the goal is to provide good jobs for many, many years. The mayor added, “Let’s couple that (refining oil) with what we know about renewable energy and create an energy complex up there.” Smelser said the region is the perfect place for the energy industry because there’s no hurricanes or earthquakes, and people in the area don’t mind production being conducted. Editor’s Note: See BBC article “Montana town revels in oil boom,” courtesy of BBC News Online published Oct, 19, 2009, reprinted on pages 46-47 of this section.


Tappin’ the bakken fall edition

SIDNEY HERALD

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

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Tappin’ the bakken fall edition

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

SIDNEY HERALD

Tester says oil industry helping Montana during tough times BY U.S. SEN. JON TESTER

Greetings from the U.S. Senate. It’s a busy time in Congress. I don’t need to tell you about the hard times facing Montanans and people across the country. I’m hard at work helping to rebuild our economy from the ground up. As we continue that work, I’m focused on creating jobs for folks in Montana. And that’s where Richland County comes in. I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to the all the folks – the oil producers, roughnecks, engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs – who brought the boom to the county over the last few years. You’re creating economic opportunity for Montanans, and I’m proud to be your partner in that effort. Rebuilding our economy will take hard work, but working together to develop our own resources, we can create a stronger and more stable economy for Montana and the United States. Montanans are no strangers to challenging times. But when we see opportunity, we seize it. Montana’s energy industry is poised to play an enormous role in rebuilding our economy.

The Bakken Formation under Richland County is a valuable resource for Montana and for our energy future. I believe it’s time to take action and secure America’s energy independence with our homegrown resources because these days, gas prices are about as predictable as Montana weather. We can no longer afford to rely so heavily on oil from the Middle East. Make no mistake about it: energy security is essential to America’s national security. And energy security is essential to Montana’s economic growth and prosperity. With our gas, oil and abundant renewable resources, Montana has what it takes to be part of the solution. We have what it takes to achieve energy independence. We can get it done if we continue to work together. Again, my thanks to all folks at work in Richland County and across eastern Montana. Keep it up. And as we work together for energy security, new opportunity for rural America and new good-paying jobs, please stay in touch. Jon Tester is a third-generation farmer from Big Sandy.

RICHLAND COUNTY

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Information provided by Jim Halvorson, Montana Board of Oil and Gas

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Tappin’ the bakken fall edition

SIDNEY HERALD

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

State fiscal experts says energy production taxes key to budget The state expert on fiscal policy said the natural resources industry is a critical cog in the state’s economy. “A tremendous amount of revenues go to pay not only for schools but for a lot of state and local services,” Terry Johnson, principal fiscal analyst, Montana legislature, told a conference on school funding. “Our natural resources – oil and gas, coal, metals – are critical to our state’s economy. When you get a flavor of how much oil and gas production taxes contribute to state coffers, it’s substantial.” In 2008 , more than $324 million was paid to the state in oil and natural gas production taxes. Johnson noted that we have seen a decline in actual oil and gas production in Montana. “If that continues this revenue won’t be here, even if prices rebound,” he noted. “The amount of production can affect our state revenues.” Johnson addressed a conference on school funding sponsored by Montana Rural Education Association, Montana

‘A tremendous amount of revenues go to pay not only for schools but for a lot of state and local services.’ Terry Johnson Principal fiscal analyst

Petroleum Association and Montana Taxpayers Association. “Bridges to the Future,” held over two days in Billings, explored K-12 funding and natural resources. The conference was attended by nearly 100 people from around the state, including school board trustees and administrators, representatives from the natural resources industry and some members of the Montana Legislature.

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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

SIDNEY HERALD

Giant is still not sleeping Elm Coulee expected to still have 119.2 million barrels of oil left BY LINDSEY BRIGHT SPECIAL TO THE HERALD

It’s known as the Sleeping Giant. Everyone agrees it woke up with a roar in 2000. In the past year and a half, the roars of the rigs have gone silent with a still landscape. With the roars, the roughnecks, rig hands, the many workers of the oil field left the lines of the supermarket, restaurants, local businesses in Richland County. Elm Coulee had gone back to sleep. Or so the townspeople started to whisper. The giant has been drained, slain, never to rise again. “Since 2000, the play has produced 80.8 million barrels,” Stephen Sonnenberg, professor of petroleum geology at the Colorado School of Mines, said. Presently, the play is producing 40,000 barrels of oil a day. Sonnenberg says the generally accepted number of barrels of oil still to be recovered in Elm Coulee is 119.2 million. “Most people think this will be economically recoverably oil,” Sonnenberg said, also clarifying that in these geological estimates, no form of enhanced oil recovery is estimated. That means, depending on the formations geological properties, the amount of recoverable oil will be even higher. “Part of our studies do enough characterization to see if viable for EOR,” Sonnenberg said. The entire Williston Basin has been known to petroleum geologists and oilmen since the 1950s. The petroleum system didn’t gain widespread attention until geologist Dick Findley matched the formation’s geology with the new technology of horizontal drilling and multistage hydraulic fracturing. In 2000, testing out Findley’s theory, oil companies started to move into the Elm Coulee play, the Sleeping Giant. The first play drilled in the Williston Basin, located on the western sliver of the basin. Now, Sonnenberg and research partner Arvi Pramudito are doing a complete study on the Elm Coulee, and Sonnenberg is extremely excited with what his research has uncovered so far. “This is an exceptional field,” Sonnenberg said. “The [Elm Coulee] field itself is very exciting. Anytime one can find this kind of production, especially in a

STEVE SONNENBERG PROFESSOR AND CHARLES BOETTCHER DISTINGUISHED CHAIR IN PETROLEUM GEOLOGY AT THE COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES

This isopach map of Elm Coulee shows the thickness of subsurface sands in the play known as the Sleeping Giant. Knowing the thickness of the sand helps drillers and producers more accurately find the oil field's sweet spot. maturely drilled field, it’s not very common. The Williston Basin keeps on yielding giant recovery. It’s a great basin to be in, very exciting.” Sonnenberg stated that though no one can know for sure how much oil Elm Coulee has, the production is well on its way, and the potential is still quite good. His and Pramudito’s ongoing study of Elm Coulee is concentrating on what controls the field, stratographic trap. “We’re describing the geology of the field and the trapping mechanism,” Sonnenberg said.

Geologist Findley’s innovation to pair the Bakken Formation with horizontal drilling and multi-stage fracturing opened up the giant field and the entire basin. Technology in the oil field has not stopped progressing even with last year’s oil price plummet. “Technology will play a huge role” Sonnenberg said. “With the development of technology, we should see a lot more discoveries made in the Bakken and Three Forks Sanish, in the entire Bakken Petroleum System.” Sonnenberg believes that the Three

Forks Sanish [TFS] Formation is a separate oil-producing reservoir from the Mid-Bakken. However, it is still part of the same overall Bakken Petroleum System. Sonnenberg and Pramudito are studying the underlying TFS in Montana, and so far, think that the potential recovery is very good. “It’s a very exciting formation and field,” Sonnenberg said. “Everyone should feel real good about the direction developments in the formation are headed. This is an important resource for America.”


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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

SIDNEY HERALD

Total Safety Sales and Service Servicing the Williston Basin to meet all of your safety concerns.

Hamm & Phillips Service Company Celebrating 40 Years of Service in the Oil & Gas Industry Hamm & Phillips Service Co. has been servicing the oil & gas industry since 1968. The company’s corporate headquarters are located in Enid, Oklahoma. The company established operations in Marmarth, North Dakota in 1995 and have since opened facilities in Sidney, Montana and Dickinson, North Dakota. They are proud to be a part of the growing oil and gas industry in the Williston Basin and Bakken Shale. Ron Boyd, President of Hamm & Phillips, has led the company through the cyclical nature of the oil industry since 1995. He contributes the continued success of Hamm & Phillips to the hardworking and dedicated employees. Quoted from Mr. Boyd “We can buy trucks, but people build companies.” As they celebrate their 40th year in the business, Hamm & Phillips looks forward to many more years of taking care of our customers to which we have the privilege to serve.

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LOUISA BARBER | SIDNEY HERALD

Lambert students enjoy the new playground equipment.

Lambert puts oil revenue to good use BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD

Out in rural Richland County, one district has been quietly renovating its facility in an effort to improve its quality of education. “It’s great to know that this community is so educationally minded,” said Lambert Superintendent Bill Colter, who’s been on the job for four months. The school’s been able to make quite a few changes with the oil and gas tax dollars within the last few years. If a person hasn’t stepped into its halls since last school year, they’ll certainly be surprised as it doesn’t look like the same institution. To begin with, dramatic

changes include a new roof, vo-ag room, art room, kitchen, music room, weight room and an addition to the gymnasium for more seating. That’s just the start. New carpeting and a paint job on the walls significantly improve the overall look of the school. New corridors connect the main building to new additions like the newly built cafeteria where students and staff enjoy breakfast and lunch. A renovated and expanded library now replaces the old cafeteria located near the main entrance. New shelves are half full, still waiting to be filled with additional reading materials. One goal Lambert

SEE LAMBERT | PAGE 14

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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

SIDNEY HERALD

Lambert: School officials make decisions to benefit their students’ education FROM PAGE 13

school officials has is opening a “public library” for community use during the evening. Two nights a week the public would be invited to use Internet, magazines and books. “I think that would be one of our dreams to have that available for people,” Colter said. Two new locker rooms were built, classrooms were brought up to code, a new heating system was installed as well as a new student lounge with tables and a vending machine to be used on cold days during lunch hour or recess. A flat screen TV will eventually be installed so students can watch news programs. Outside, the elementary students play on the new playground equipment that was finished being installed Oct. 12. Swings, several climbing contraptions and monkey bars keep the students active. “The whole deal with what we’re trying to do is what can we do for our students? That’s been the whole thing,” the superintendent said. Part of that means bringing quality teachers to the area and having them stay. Lambert School Board members know

teachers often have a difficult time trying to locate housing. That’s why the board has put money into building housing facilities for them to live. “The philosophy here is we want our teachers part of the community,” Colter said. “They want them to live here so they’re part of it, and so by building these homes and renting them back at a reasonable price, we’re able to provide quality housing for our staff.” Not to mention, walking distance is nice when gas prices are through the roof. Maybe most notable is the school’s ability to purchase laptops for its students. When a student enters ninth grade, Lambert School buys a laptop for them and keeps it up to date through their senior year. The student’s work is stored on the device, and as they work on the computer through the years, the two essentially become “best friends” as they head off to college. “I think the board here has been very conscious of every dollar that we’ve been blessed with by these oil revenues,” Colter said. “We’re very thankful for them.” LOUISA BARBER | SIDNEY HERALD

A new kitchen and cafeteria area are among the improvements.

reporter@sidneyherald.com

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IIS S ERVICES I NC . Marty Shaide Cell: 489-1441 • Fax 742-9043 Fairview, MT • Rock Springs, WY

Dan Cayko Cell: 480-5665 Home: 742-3630 Marty Shaide 489-1441 Fairview, MT • Rock Springs, WY


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For all your Cement and Gravel needs Fallon County Red-E-Mix.

M i t c h e l l ’s c a n f i x i t , l i f t i t , h a u l i t . . . Steamer Trucks • Back Hoes • Iron Trucks • Cherry Pickers • Track Hoes • Trenchers • Trailers • Welders and their equipment

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J & L Fenc ing & Pit Liners

Meeting your needs! • Pit liners • Fencing: chainlink & wire • Trenching • Grass seeding • Tree fabric • Tarps • Silage covers

Jeff Aisenbrey: 489-3655 Brian Holst: 489-1766 Office: 433-3655 212 S. Central, Mail: PO Box 165, Sidney, MT 59270

For all your vac truck and hot oil truck needs.

• QUALITY WORK • Years of experience

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Office: 406-482-7870 Toll Free: 1-888-287-7808 Sidney Mobile: 406-489-2097 or 406-489-0999 • Plentywood Mobile: 406-765-7102

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Locally owned and operated since 1988

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WELLHEAD ISOLATION & WELLHEAD FRACTURING TOOLS • Tubing Isolation Tool • Casing Savers • Frac Stacks • Stage Frac Tool • Mix-Master Tool • Frac Valves • Rental Equipment

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Laurie Pederson VP, Trust Manager

OIL FIELD TRUCKING

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Mark McGinley Asst. Trust Officer

Adam Natwick Asst. Trust Officer

As a leader in institutional and trust management, ASB&T provides service to families, trusts and foundations across the upper midwest.

223 Main Street, Williston, ND 774-4120 www.asbt.com

Bryan Gartner, Owner/President 406-482-8800 • Fax 406-482-8200 • Cell 406-489-1002

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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

SIDNEY HERALD

From Sidney to Stanley Fracture technology has We’ve got the Oil Field Supplies long, tumultous history

you need, where you need them.

1511 South Central Ave., Sidney, MT • 406-488-8706

• Down hole sucker rod pumps • Gates hydraulic hoses & belts • Norris sucker rods & fishing tools • Line pipe • Tubing • Fittings • Balon ball valves • Tubing anchors

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Cell numbers David Williams: 406-489-8706 Scott Ramus: 406-489-8707 e-mail: rpands@midrivers.com

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BY LINDSEY BRIGHT SPECIAL TO THE HERALD

In 1860, Sir Edwin Drake drilled a well 69 feet deep. It was a gusher – oil shooting out from the earth like Old Faithful’s dark brother. Things in North America haven’t been quite the same since then. In DK’s Eyewitness book collection for children, the book Oil begins with a section titled “King Oil,” and is followed by the line, “Our world is ruled by oil.” That line, whether a person is an oil lobbyist or an environmental conservationist, holds some truth. At the bare minimum, the fact it is in a contemporary children‘s book tells that oil has become a basic needed commodity – plastics, fuel, makeup, asphalt, by-products of King Oil. Even holding such a place of royalty among natural resources, or perhaps because of it, everywhere that oil turns up, everywhere an oil man drills, the hums of the drills are magnified by the media’s coverage. The slant, it may change, from journalist to journalist, region to region, political party to party. But everywhere that oil is, the media and politicians are soon to follow. Every year, since the 1970s, new energy bills are brought up in the senate proposing new means to regulate or de-regulate oil and gas production. This year, energy and fossil fuel bills are being considered, passed, passed over. One technical area has raised particular concern: hydraulic fracturing, fraccing, one half of the equation that has brought rigs to the Bakken Formation in huge numbers. One side is frightened by what all is involved in this fraccing that has become so popular in the last few years. They don’t know what they’re putting in the ground. Our groundwater is becoming poisonous! The other side is frightened by the image of future oil and gas recovery without fraccing. They’re trying to put a stop to all drilling rigs, to all oil production. America will have to import all of its oil! Both sides scream far in opposite directions, and the middle ground can only be found by seeking out the history of this controversial technology.

FRACCING ISN’T A NEW THING Fracturing rock for natural resource recovery is nothing novel or new. Doing so with water first occurred in the North American oil industry in 1949 down in Texas. The term was known as hydrofrac-

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Continental fraccing location. turing. But before there was hydro fracturing, there was fracture stimulation in the oil industry. Since the 19th century, if a well wasn’t flowing, the first thought wasn’t abandonment, it was what can be done to stimulate production.

PENNSYLVANIA, 1860 According to Victor Ross, who wrote The Evolution of the Oil Industry in 1920, “nitro-glycerin was being exploded in large quantities down deep in the earth to shatter the oil-bearing rock and make wells flow, without noticeable public or physical disturbance.” The process became known as “oil-shooting.” The men who dropped the nitro were the “wellshooters,” long hailed the bravest men of the oil field. The nitroglycerine was contained in five foot long tubes with a two-inch diameter. With the utmost care and caution, the well-shooter would lower five to 15 shells down the well bore. Then, the “godevil” would be dropped, a five pound shell facing downward, and the wellshooters would run. According to former ARCO President Robert O. Anderson’s book “The Fundamentals of the Petroleum Industry,” published 1987, Col. E.A. Roberts patented the above shooting system in 1865. To promote his system, he shot a dry hole which quickly began producing 20 barrels a day. Explosive fracturing worked and quickly caught on throughout Pennsylvania. Explosives weren’t the only thing tried to increase oil production. Anderson

SEE HISTORY | PAGE 22

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Proud to be of service to Eastern Montana’s Oil Field

High Speed Wireless Internet 1200 S. Central • Sidney • 406-433-6400 • Custom built fabrications of all types • Aluminum Welding • Rig up of oil field trucks • Installation of pusher & tag axles • Wet Kits/Hydraulic System • PTO’s • Truck & trailer repair (mechanical & electrical) • Farm Trucks • DOT Inspection • Thread & groove pipe up to 4” • Custom made bolts to 13/8”

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For Safety’s Sake

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C a l l b e f o r e y o u d i g!

Please notify the appropriate One Call service 48 hours in advance of excavation, construction or similar activities. Montana One Call 1-800-424-5555 or within MT simply dial 811 North Dakota One Call 1-800-795-0555 or within ND simply dial 811 One Call location service is free of charge.

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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

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SIDNEY HERALD

History: Many changes made in hydraulic fracturing during decades of advances in United States FROM PAGE 20

were patenting methods of well stimulation using acids. In 1932, an acid treatment increased the well’s production 20 times. By 1950, the well-shooters were a thing of the past, replaced by acidizers and a new way to stimulate a well - hydraulic fracturing.

THE OLD BECOMES NEW AGAIN The end goal of hydraulic fracturing is the same as shooting a well - retrieve optimal output of oil and/or gas from a well. The technique has changed through the years, both due to technological advances and safeguards toward environmental protection. However, the basic steps are the same. Drill a well bore roughly the size of an outstretched palm. Send water down the hole at a high pressure to crack the source rock. Pump down hundreds of thousands of pounds of specially made sand to the frac location. This holds open the crack and allows the formerly trapped oil or gas to flow to the production well. “When hydraulic fracturing was first used, […] wells would be vertically frac-

tured every 10 or so feet. That wasn’t good. It was too close to the water table, that’s why it’s not done anymore,” said Chris Tucker, a spokesman for Washington based energy coalition Energy in Depth. The biggest difference between the 1950s and now is the depth and the direction. They are drilling deeper, up to more than two miles, and then, the drill goes horizontal, forming the lateral leg, up to another two miles. Part of the drilling includes casing. The purpose is to isolate the hole from the rest of the world. In hydraulic fracturing, casing is of extreme importance in directing the pressurized to the correct fracture point. It is an uncontested consensus that the combination of horizontal drilling and improved hydraulic fracturing techniques is the reason why the Williston Basin, Marcellus and Haynesville Shales have opened up and become a very active petroleum system.

THE BAKKEN FRACCING VANGUARD Oil and gas companies really began drilling into the mid-Bakken Formation of North Dakota and eastern Montana in

Large inventory of truck tires designed to withstand the rugged use of the oil industry. Large selection of retreads also available.

2003. The technology used then was very basic. Drill down into the Bakken zone and then drill the lateral leg. Once this was done, a company would frac. Nothing fancy the, just a one-time uncontrolled frac job. There wasn’t anything directing the fluids, the entire length of the lateral leg would be fracced. Companies found oil, it was economical. Then EOG Resources in 2007 brought in the same technology it had been using in the Barnette Shale of Texas. EOG used swell packers, a rubber compound that swells when it makes contact with oil, to divide the lateral into sections. Each of these stages is fracced. Five to seven frac stages become the Bakken standard. In early 2008, Brigham Exploration pushed the limits and completed the first 12 stage frac job. With each additional frac stage added, it seemed the greater the output of oil would be from the well. This was Brigham’s theory. With the completion of their Brad Olson 9-16 #1H well earlier this month, it seems they’ve proven their theory correct. Brad Olson was the first successfully completed 28 stage frac in the Williston Basin, and it spudded at

2,112 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Though hydraulic fracturing is much safer than dropping tin cans full of nitroglycerin down a hole, it is still contested. Is it safe? It certainly sounds scary, fraccing. And this jarring word, is creating political fractions in congress and courts.

THE FRACCING ARGUMENT Everyone’s dark side, the politicians: In 2008, Representative Diane DeGette (D-Col.) sponsored a bill “to repeal the exemption for hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act, and for other purposes.” The bill’s purpose was to have hydraulic fracturing regulated under the SDWA by the EPA. In 2009, she introduced an almost identical bill, except with a few additions including a catchy title Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, FRAC. This new FRAC bill has been toted and publicized as a bill whose purpose is to force oil and gas drilling and production companies to make all the additives in their fraccing fluids public knowledge. Who but a business man could possibly

SEE FRACTURING | PAGE 24

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PETERBILT OF WILLISTON

4623 2nd Ave. W. Williston • PHONE

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Toll Free 1-888-894-3511 • Tim Soiseth, Mgr.


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Halliburton 36 Ave S Williston, ND 5881 701-572-4515 Baroid Drilling and Completion Fluid Services

Halliburton 602 2nd Street East Williston, ND 58801 701-774-2513 Completion Tools/ EasyWell/ VF Liner Hangers / WIT

Halliburton- Denver Region Office 1125 17th St. Suite 1900 Denver, CO 80202 1-303-899-4700

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Halliburton / Sperry Directional Drilling 1-307-472-5757

www.halliburton.jobs

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Halliburton 420 Halliburton Dr Williston, ND 58801 701-774-3963 1-800-774-3963 Frac / Cement / Acid / N2 Services Wireline & Perforating Open/Cased Hole Logging

Halliburton / Basin Bits Drill Bits & Service 701-568-3415

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Fracturing: Sides debate about contents of legislation FROM PAGE 22

see anything wrong with that? Yet the bill caused a stir from both sides of the fence. Infuriation from both the upstream and downstream oil and gas industry. And of course, there was the backlash from the supporting politicians. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), who is a co-sponsor of the FRAC bill, wrote in an opinion piece last month, “while the practice of fraccing has been around for some time, energy companies are now using new concoctions of toxic chemicals on a grander scale than ever before. Evidence from drilling sites across the country gives reason for concern.” He ends the piece with a request for caring for the future generations; we don’t want them to suffer for our foolishness. Opposed to the bill, governor of Colorado Bill Ritter, a Democrat who has stated that to date there is no adequate studies on the effects of fraccing to ground water sources. Ritter is pushing for DeGette to wait for such a study to be complete before pushing the bill.

THE WHITE SIDE: “Our prime concern with hydraulic fracturing is that it threatens our drinking wa-

ter,” Jennifer Goldman, Public Health & Toxics campaign director EARTHWORKS’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project, says. “This process involves injecting large volumes of water, proppants and toxic chemicals underground. A portion of hydraulic fracturing toxics stay underground. There is the potential for them to migrate and threaten water resources.” Is it true or is it an argument that sounds good, so good, that only a wishing to drink toxins would oppose it? As of yet, however, there is no water contamination proven to be a direct cause of hydraulic fracturing. The closest case is Pavillon, Wyo., regarding which the Environmental Protection Agency released a saying stating that 11 out of 39 drinking wells were contaminated. Among the list of possible reasons for contamination was hydraulic fracturing for coal bed methane. “No state is recording the volumes of fracturing fluid that are left behind,” Goldman continues. EARTHWORKS wishes this to be done universally, in all 34 states producing oil and gas and all states that may in the future. “Regulating hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act would provide a minimum federal standard to prohibit drinking water contamination,”

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This frac job by Continental was at the Rhonda 1-21H Rocket Prospect in Dunn County, N.D. says Goldman.

THE OTHER SIDE, BACK IN BLACK: “The primary products used in Montana’s hydraulic fractures are sand and a fluid to carry the sand,” wrote director of the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation, Tom Richmond. “The most common carrier fluids are either nitrogen foam or gelled water[…] the gelling agents are similar to those used in making gelatin dessert or soft-serve ice cream. “This is not an Armageddon,” Dennis Lathem, executive director Coal-bed Methane Association of Alabama [CMAA], says. “Hydraulic fracturing has a

lot of history… “ Lathem says that lots of alarm has been raised in the past, and present, over benzene being used as an agent for hydraulic fracturing. “It’s a hydrocarbon going into a hydrocarbon.” The CMAA was at the center of a lawsuit lasting through the 1990s which first brought hydraulic fracturing under federal regulation by classifying hydraulic fracturing as underground injection which is regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act. “Sierra Club isn’t involved in this effort because they want to see more detailed inventory sheets. They’re involved because they see the DeGette bill as an effective means for shutting down hydraulic fracturing and halting the development of America ’s shale gas reserves in one fell swoop. Not the most honest or direct means, I’ll grant you, but a clear path nonetheless,” Tucker, spokesman for Energy in Depth, says. Both sides may indeed say they are seeking truth, however, that would be rhetoric. All over this little matter of King Oil and stimulation technique used to summon it to the surface. We know the history of fracture stimulation and its evolution through the years. We know the present sentiments of various parties toward the technology. Still, there is no clarity. Onward, then, to the history of regulations on oil well drilling and fracture stimulation technology.

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Don Franz, President 24-Hour Service Office: 406-482-4760 • Fax: 406-482-4765 1700 S. Central Ave. • P.O. Box 1046 • Sidney, MT 59270 C Y

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Agricultural, Oilfield, Natural Gas, Industrial • Engines • Pumps • Compressors • Generators • Construction Equipment • Industrial Machine Shop & much more

701-774-2231 or Cell 770-7965

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

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Industrial Equipment

I.E.S.S. Sales & Service, Inc. Just North of Wal-Mart Located behind OK Fuel Stop - North Williston 314 42nd St. West, Williston 701-572-2393 • www.iessinc.com

We Carry: New Steel • Aluminum • Stainless Steel • Misc. Piano Hinges, Weld On Hinges, Latches We Have: • Press Brake • Shear • Auto Feed Band Saw • Plasma Table • Piranha Iron Worker

Located Just North of Wal-Mart 4324 4th Ave. W. Williston, ND • Any Size 1/8” to 1-3/8” Wire Rope Assemblies • Grade 100 Chain Assemblies from 1/4” To 3/4” • 800 Ton Press for Wire Rope Assemblies • 225,000# Pull Test Machine Located Just North of Wal-Mart in Williston • Grade 70 Load 4324 4th Ave. W. in Williston - NW of Industrial Equipment Chains and Binders • Winch Lines for Trucks After hours calls available • Nylon LIfting Straps

PHONE 701-774-2320

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SIDNEY HERALD

House Bill 758 benefits eastern Montana communities BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD

It took hard work on the part of several activists to get the bill passed, and in 2005, it finally did, granting oil, gas and coal producing counties and their municipalities tax revenue for their use. According to House Bill 758, the Montana Department of Revenue must distribute the oil and gas funds to the counties based on their production, with one-third given to the county government and twothirds to incorporated cities and towns within the county according to population. The beginnings of this significant bill go back years when the coal severance tax was placed in a trust fund. Later, Legislature decided to distribute the money back to production counties who had taken it all. Eventually, a group was formed to create the oil, gas and coal counties. “They distribute that money proportionally by production,” Rep. Walt McNutt, R-Sidney, said, adding 5 percent of the money goes into the coal trust fund. By 2005, McNutt introduced a bill that would distribute the oil, gas and coal revenue not only to the county governments but also give money to the counties’ municipal governments. He gladly granted the request from Montana Association of Oil, Gas and Coal Counties executive director William Duffield and sponsored the bill. “It wouldn’t have done any good to have, say, a legislator out of Missoula, Butte or Billings because they’re not concerned about it,” he said. According to the proposed bill, all the revenue from the industries were placed into one account. Part of the money went to the Montana Association of Oil, Gas and Coal Counties Commission for its operations, and whatever money wasn’t used would be given to the municipalities. “This way they (the cities) get their pot of money and they don’t have to go to the counties,” he said. “They had a source of funds that was theirs and there were no benchmarks in the funds. They could use it for whatever they wanted.” Meanwhile, Sidney Mayor Bret Smelser and the city of Glendive worked together to create a plan of their own. “We came up with a plan that we would approach the Legislature and ask for 2.5 percent of the increase production at that time,” Smelser said, “and our original thoughts were to get the money, spread it over 16 counties.”

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Unfortuneately, the idea was dead upon arrival, which is when Smelser came into contact with Duffield and ended up backing the bill. Close to 60 cities and towns were affected, so signatures were collected. Smelser along with the mayor of Glendive made at least three trips to Helena during the 2005 legislative session to attend meetings with Gov. Brian Schweitzer and hearings on the bill, in hopes of seeing it through. “Basically it was a cooperative effort between Glendive and Sidney, and then Baker was brought in later to help,” Smelser said. The original plan was to give $100-200,000 a piece to the affected counties. “It ended up being based on production, so Sidney and Baker ended up getting the majority because at that time and still today we’re probably three-fourths of the oil and gas production,” Smelser said. That’s when the mayor presented a request to Sidney City Council members to send 4 percent of their quarterly check to Glendive. “They’d worked hard on the bill too, but the production wasn’t in it,” he said. Council agreed but have since negotiated to 3.5 percent. The bill had only a couple objections from opposing legislators, but it went through relatively smooth, which is good thing for counties heavily effected by the oil and gas industry. Those counties with the most impact need the most money because of the added traffic running on the roads. “It puts a big demand on your community that if you don’t have it (the production) you don’t have the impact, so that’s necessary that this flows back to where production is developed and produced,” McNutt said. In the last quarterly distribution for Dec. 31, 2008, the oil, gas and coal commission counties were allotted $809,722.29. Richland County was given $365,692.98, followed by Fallon County with $165,629.49. Of the $365,692.98, $121,897.66 was distributed to the county for services such as the health department and infrastructure needs; Fairview received $29,922.38; and Sidney received $213,872.94. Other counties with a significant portion included Blaine $40,185.84; Phillips $36,293.34; Sheridan $32,432.92; Roosevelt $27,575.36; Big Horn $25,550.74; and Hill $21,245.65. The remaining counties received fewer than $15,000.

Field Office Locations Sidney, MT – Williston, ND – Belfield, ND – Casper, WY

www.stmaryland.com

reporter@sidneyherald.com

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Rocky Mountain Regional Office: Billings, MT 406.245.6248

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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

Hauling Fresh & Salt Water • Snow Removal

Eagle Nest Fresh & Salt Water For Sale

PINE RIDGE

Dispatcher: 480-9746 • Shop: 480-9233 • Office: 433-2247 34729 Co. Rd. 119, Sidney

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Tanks • Buildings • Accessories Al 701-770-8540 • Scott 701-570-1841 • Williston, ND

Bakken Facility Natural gas gathering and processing facility.

Empire Oil Company is an oil a n d g a s l e a s e a c q u i s i t i o n c o m p a n y. P.O. Box 1835, Williston, ND Email: bill@empireoil.net Front row from left, Daryl Vaira, Rob Gilbert, Ted Kostelecky, Jesse Reuter, John Sult and Sue Sult; back, Richard Lambert, Jason Deming, Darwyn Ulberg, Marvin Welnel, Doug Whitney, Scot Bloomfield and Shane Herbst.

Located Northwest of Sidney, Montana 406-798-3055

Phone: 701-774-2845 • Fax: 701-774-3537 Bill LaCrosse

Buying & Leasing of Minerals

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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

Tappin’ the bakken fall edition

SIDNEY HERALD

County utilitizes funds for building projects, roads BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD

Within the last few years, Richland County has experienced an abundance of oil and gas tax revenue that has stimulated the local economy, improving the quality of life for its residents. Because of the extra monies, county commissioners have put together a fiveyear capital improvement plan, which will total $49,723,222 by the end of fiscal year 2014. The plan includes current projects like the Justice Center ($18.15 million), Community Services building ($5.97 million), Richland County Fair commercial building ($3.865 million) and Richland County Fairgrounds parking lot ($644,370), as well as future projects such as court house improvements ($1.06 million), MSURichland County Extension Office ($750,000) and the library expansion ($4.35 million). “We had the opportunity to do these programs that last for generations with no additional taxes levied on the citizens of the county,” Commissioner Mark Rehbein said. It’s hard to believe there could be that much money available, but if one takes a look at how money is distributed to the counties, it should make sense. Based on regulations, the county is alloted nearly 50 percent of the total oil and gas revenue produced within the county while the other part of the revenue goes to the state. Now of that money given to the county, portions of it are distributed to the schools districts, transportation and teacher retirement accounts. For the fourth quarter of the 2008-2009 fiscal year, Richland County received the most oil revenue with $6,395,599.59 followed by Fallon County with $2,987,628.72. In working to put the money to good use, Richland County commissioners have been working on a couple areas. First is the fair’s commercial building, which is scheduled to be up and running during the summer of 2010. “I am excited for the change. I truly think there is so much potential for additional usage at the fairgrounds,” Richland County Fair and Rodeo manager Jamie Larson said, adding the idea has been talked about for quite awhile. The new building, which will cost about $3.865 million, will include a 70x200 events area with a concrete floor, restrooms, office, kitchen and storage area as well as house commercial vendors during the four days of the fair. “I am very happy with the improve-

LOUISA BARBER | SIDNEY HERALD

Fixing Savage’s streets was one of the county’s projects. ments,” Larson said. “We have been very fortunate county wide for the oil revenue.” The county public works department has also been busy using oil money – mostly trying to improve 1,200 miles of road. In Savage and Lambert, crews are working on overlaying streets because they were last paved in the early 1980s. “This is the first opportunity we’ve had to go back and can afford to do something,” public works director Russ Huotari said. The department is currently experimenting with an alternative to laying asphalt. Switching to a double layer of chip seal would reduce the cost, saving the county 75 percent of what it costs to lay new concrete (an estimated $800,000 per mile). Huotari said it’s been a long process, but he doesn’t know what would happen without the extra revenue. “There’s never enough money. No matter how much money you throw at county government, there’s many more needs than there are funds because of the breadth of what we’re trying to deal with on a daily basis,” he said. Some of the items that have been purchased using the oil money include new equipment for daily operations – three motor graders were added for a fleet total of 11 – and a maintenance building for main-

BILL VANDER WEELE | SIDNEY HERALD

Concrete for the new commercial building at the Richland County Fairgrounds was poured in late September. taining Richland County Transportation buses. Public works has also been able to increase its crew from 22 to 30. Huotari gives credit to the county for having an aggressive bridge program over the last 25 years. Had the county not given priority to the county’s bridges, those bridges would not have been able to handle the loads that come with today’s oil production. Huotari said he believes the funds have

been well spent, and if it hadn’t been for that extra money, Richland County would be functioning as other eastern Montana counties that don’t have enough funds to support its needs. “I don’t know how they do it,” he said. “It wouldn’t be fun. At least we have the resources to tackle most problems not on a specific basis, but we’re trying to tackle the general maintenance on all of our roads.”


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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

SIDNEY HERALD

Bakken players, an oil field family

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The stigma thrust upon oil companies normally looks something like this: they will cheat you out of all your money, and they will knock their competition down at their feet, buy the land from under them, lie about the sweet spots. Yet somehow, this stigma does not come to fruition in the companies drilling and producing the Williston Basin. “You know who is really due credit here, it’s ------,” one oil industry professional said, and he continued to say another company and what it was that paved the way for them to follow. Turns out, the man was right. Credit was due to another company. Another, “The companies in the Bakken are acting as a whole here. We’re sharing information with each other. Let them know what we’re doing that’s working for us.” “You know, it was so and so company that was actually the first to try it out.” “Everybody is sharing information with each other,” another said. The sharing of information, that’s the common

theme. Many of those same oilmen have told me that this sharing is a big part of each one’s success in the Bakken. The reason this happens in the Bakken is the complexities of an unconventional shale reservoir. The risk of drilling into the Bakken is high. The cost for a rig, for fraccing, if the hole does not produce, like a descent amount, the company is out millions of dollars. It’s a risked shared by every company who takes the chance to drill the Bakken. For those who have taken the chance, by trial and error and the sharing of this information they have come to success. Until 2003, the entire Williston Basin Petroleum System was fairly unknown to many oil and gas companies and geologists, but when Dick Findley saw the possibility that hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling could bring success to the basin, oilmen brave enough to try this good guess proved him correct. Since then, the techniques have evolved, becoming more precise. What works with one company rolls over to the next and to the next and then becomes the

SEE FAMILY | PAGE 42

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LOUISA BARBER | SIDNEY HERALD

Technology is one area that Savage has addressed.

Savage continues to plan ahead BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD

At Savage Public School, oil and gas tax revenue has somewhat been minimal compared to the grand makeovers at other schools, but with the money that’s been given, like all the rest, they’ve been able to use it to their advantage. Small things like, new boiler system, a school van, new carpet, new lockers, a shed for record keeping, landscaping and outdoor furniture, a crows nest for the football field as well as refinished gym and auditorium floors quietly boost the school’s overall look and improve its functionality. They have also been able to purchase a bus barn and computers for their lab on a rotational basis – 15 each year. In a town population below 150, Savage residents know what it means to keep their own residents, and because of that, the school has set up a building reserve for teacher housing for future use. Almost all their teachers are 60 and above, which means some will be ready to retire soon. “When they retire, they all live here, they’re not leaving, and they’re not going to leave their houses empty that they own,” Savage District Clerk Diana Miller said. School officials plan to purchase lots to build on, but not with oil funds however. The extra oil revenue has only made it possible to be able to do it. “I believe they watched money very,

very carefully," Miller said of the way things were before the oil money came. Miller, who’s been district clerk for three years, remembers how the school officials closely watched the money they spent when she first started. Teachers especially had a hard time making decisions when it came to their supply list. “Sometimes they had to say, ‘Well, I want this over that,’ ” Miller said, “and this way (with the oil money) they could have both.We’ve been able to provide the teachers with all the supplies and books that they wanted.” Second- and third-grade teacher Joyce Carter, who taught for 38 years in Savage, says she’s thankful the oil money came for not only Savage but the entire school. “I don’t think schools could afford to update if they didn’t have the oil money to keep up with renovating and remodeling,” she said, “so it’s a good thing.” The school has been struggling to keep enrollment figures up. Savage has seen a drop this year with under 100 students k-12 enrolled in school. And because schools are largely funded based on Average Number Belonging, which depends on enrollment, money is slipping away. “The fewer students you have the less money you get from the state,” she said. “It’s important to have that [oil] money coming in because of that reason. Having oil money is just a way of taking care of things that we couldn’t normally.”

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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

www.richlandfcu.com Sidney, MT & Culbertson, MT

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We salute the hard working men and women of our local oil & gas industry for their dedicated efforts at lessening our dependence on foreign fuel and for the significant contribution they are making to our local economy. Make sure they don’t go without thanks; join us today and every day in recognizing our local oil field hands and their employers for all they contribute to our community.

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County schools get upgrades thanks to oil, gas money BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD

Like almost every other school in Richland County, the two country schools are taking advantage of updating their facilities to improve the learning environment. The Richland County School Board members have put oil revenue to good use at Brorson and Rau Schools. The building at Brorson has been sided, and new central air conditioning and heat in the classrooms have been installed. A new fence surrounding the school yard was also set in place. New smart boards were purchased as well as computers. Brorson boasts the second lowest levies in the county behind Lambert. “The taxpayers aren’t paying too much to keep that little school going,” said Gail Staffanson, Richland County superintendent of schools. At Rau, a school that was originally built with oil money, the oil and gas funds came at just the right time when school administrators were starting up a hot lunch program of their own. Instead of relying on meals being prepared at Sid-

ney High School and shipped over in hot carts, Rau officials were able to use the money to begin their own program. Money went toward start-up costs like the new addition to the cafeteria used for food storage and a remodeled kitchen. New computers, smart boards and library with new carpet and furniture have also been added along with a repainted gym that was completed a couple years ago. Staffanson said she’s happy with how the funds have been spent and says it was the school board’s vision that pushed updates forward. “They’re the ones that have really stepped forward and tried to find new and unique places to put this money,” she said. She noted she’s also pleased because oil money gives tax payers a break from paying for many other projects. Levies have lowered over the years, Staffanson said, and if the county loses its oil and gas money, they’ll rise. She wants Legislators to be aware during the next legislative session of how much the funds help the school district. But with the money that’s been given,

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Tappin’ the bakken fall edition

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

SIDNEY HERALD

Sidney spends oil revenue on infrastracture for city BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD

Sidney residents have much to be thankful for when it comes to oil and gas tax revenue. Because of House Bill 758, which distributes excess funds to oil, gas and coal counties and their municipalities, Sidney is receiving a good chunk of change every year because distribution is based on production. Since its first check in February 2006 to its latest check in June 2009, Sidney has raked in roughly $4,020,000, enough to breathe life again to an ever-decreasing budget. Looking at the expenditures the city’s made over the past few years to make use of the oil money, it’s hard to miss money been sprinkled in virtually every facet possible from infrastructure improvements to donations to local organizations. “I think we’ve done the best we can,” Sidney Mayor Bret Smelser said. “We have spread it the best we can, and we’ll continue to do that.” By far, infrastructure remains the city’s top priority. Ninety-year-old piping has given way to bursting water mains. A new main was laid under Lincoln Avenue – with new overlay – along with Second Avenue and Second Street after it became urgent to do so. Fortunately, oil money was there to cover the costs. “It wasn’t scheduled, and we didn’t have the money to do it,” Sidney public works director Terry Meldahl said. Then underneath six blocks of West Main, the undersized sewer has also needed replacement. Infrastructure, sewer, water and streets totaled about $1.38 million thus far. Depicted in the accompanying spreadsheet is Sidney’s distribution of oil funds to various parts of the city. Aside from the $1 million plus infrastructure costs,

the largest portion of funds has been transferred to the general fund for the city’s day to day operations. Purchases for a new fire truck and equipment of $425,000, and funds for park and recreation such as the pool slide, skate park, South Meadow restrooms, Veterans Park sidewalk and play equipment totaling $475,000 make up another large portion of where the money has been spent. Other distributions the money has gone to include public works equipment at $120,000; down town renewal at $20,000; police and office equipment at $60,000; city employees bonus and health insurance at $64,840; and the distribution to Glendive from 4 percent of every quarterly check that totals $139,000. Some of the more minor purchases include the growth policy as required by the state for zoning and subdivision patterns at $13,000, FEMA flood boundary at $5,000, elm tree removal and replacement at $11,600. The rest are shown in the spreadsheet. “It’s well used," Meldahl said of the money spent. “It came about at just the right time when we really needed the funding.” The levies, he said, had decreased over time so the gas tax revenue had gone down hill. Meldahl said many of the project may not have been done without cutting services or substantially raising taxes. It’s not to say they wouldn’t have gotten done over time but certainly not now. “We needed some help, and this was a god send,” he said. As for Smelser, who has had to defend the choices made to focus a significant amount of money on fixing the city’s infrastructure, he stands by the decisions. “It doesn’t matter where you spend it, you’ll still have people on the sidelines telling you should’ve spent it some place else,” he said, adding that for now, the

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City of Sidney oil, gas revenue expenditures February 2006 to June 2009 Oil and Gas Revenue Expenditures from Feb. 2006 to June 2009 Total = $4,020,000 Infrastructure Transfer to General Fund Park and Recreation Fire Truck and Equipment Glendive Public Works Equipment Police C.I.P. and Office Equipment Aquifier Study Health Insurance 2006-June 2009 Employee Bonus 2006-2008 Donations to Local Groups City Hall Handicap BR Remodel City Planner Salary and Training Downtown Development Growth Policy Other Elm Tree Removal and Replace FEMA Flood Boundary Account balance at July 2009:

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

1,380,000 688,000 475,000 425,000 139,000 120,000 60,000 33,000 32,600 32,240 31,000 26,000 20,250 20,000 13,300 $13,010 11,600 5,000 $495,000

Information provided by the city of Sidney

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money has definitely eased strain on the city’s budget. “There are other things that present themselves that we’re going to at least have the resources to look at

and take advantage of them if we can,” Smelser said. reporter@sidneyherald.com

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Upgrades accomplished at high school BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD

It stands out in rural Montana has a pillar of technological change. In an area where buildings are at least 40 to 50 years old, Sidney High School is beginning to look like a product of the 20th century. Of all the schools in Richland County, and probably eastern Montana, Sidney High School staff and students have witnessed the most change to their facility. Something they say they are definitely pleased with. Within the past years, the high school has transformed into a better learning institution. “I think the staff and students are both real proud of the school facility they have here,” Principal Dan Peters said. Oil and gas tax revenue has not only helped athletics but academics as far as classrooms and technology. “It makes it a lot more user friendly as far as getting a good education.” School board members have decidedly taken steps to redesign sections of the school. Last year, they took on the 200 wing, which housed the art room, English and foreign language classes. The art

room was moved next to the shop class where math classes were held. They also tackled remodeling the guidance counseling area that now has larger offices and a set of computers for students to conduct career searches online, as well as revamping the main hallway and administrative offices. But it seems that the library, in all its grandeur, is the focal point of what oil and gas taxes have brought to the rural school. Peters says the students fondly call it “Barnes and Noble” because of its sophisticated coffee shop-bookstore atmosphere. In its corners sit leather furniture and coffee tables that are garnered with a few reading materials. In another corner in the snack area, students can hear quiet noise from a flat screen TV in the background. Other features of the new library (which is five times larger than it was) include new computers, small group study areas, computer lab complete with a smart board, and a vast literature section for students’ research projects and assignments. Peters said he’s impressed with how

SEE SIDNEY | PAGE 36

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Sidney: Improvements include library, classrooms FROM PAGE 35

the money’s been use and with the school board’s vision to renovate. As a principal for 14 years and coming from central and western Montana, he’s seen many if not most districts whose facilities need to be upgraded but just can’t do it because the money’s not there. “It’s hard sometimes to educate students the way that you’d like when you don’t have the facilities or the tools to do so,” he said, “so I think that students, the parents and community here are fortunate that the oil money’s been so helpful with education.” In addition to the library and 200 wing, which boasts geothermal heating and cooling and an upgrade on fire safety codes, new lights and walls all pay tribute to a safer, more energy efficient building. Now the school board is looking at remodeling the cafeteria and the 300 wing next year. Concerns have risen over potentially hazardous situations in the kitchen during the winter when ice builds up. Other parts to the project include redesigning the entry to the south parking lot, installing a hill that will battle the drainage concerns.

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“This is a problem we’ve had for about 10 years, and we’ve known it. We’re just now at a point where with oil and gas funds we can take care of the problem,” Superintendent Daniel Farr said. The parking lot tends to flood during heavy rain, and that’s what happened during the June 30 storm that flooded the bus barn. Parking on the west side of the library was also constructed, which the superintendent says will help during tournaments when additional parking is needed. The lot is designated for general parking.“This is at a perfect time when we have the money to upgrade our facility, our classroom spaces for students,” Farr said. As for Peters, who is just beginning his first year in Sidney, he says the community should feel blessed to have a school district spend so well on education. “Not only do I feel fortunate enough that this oil money was put to use, but I definitely don’t take it for granted,” he said. “I mean, I sit here in this new office everyday, and I think, ‘Wow, this is just a great opportunity for the school district.’ ” reporter@sidneyherald.com

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A state of the art library is now located at Sidney High School.

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SIDNEY HERALD

City of Fairview uses oil funds on projects BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD

The town of Fairview has seen its share of oil revenue as its council members have put the money to use for infrastructure. “If you don’t keep up the infrastructure in the town, pretty soon everything falls apart,” Fairview mayor Bryan Cummins said. Oil money received by the town is from HB 758, which divies out oil, gas and coal distributions through the county and incorporated cities and towns. In the 2007-2008 fiscal year, Fairview received $196,000, which was allocated to the pool with $124,000 and reserve funds with $72,000. In the 2008-2009 fiscal year, Fairview received $235,000, of which $6,100 went to city hall improvements; $32,000 to land purchase and housing

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28, 2009

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Evaluations & Drilling Intervention

rentals for city employees; $104,000 into the pool; and $52,500 to refurbish Sharbono park. Cummins said he’d eventually like to see improvements to roads because Fairview has many streets that need repairing as well as old water mains which need replacing. “It’ll deteriorate to the point where you’re moving backward instead of forward,” he said, acknowledging that the majority of the projects would not have gotten done had the money not been there from the oil. He’s thankful for the added revenue because the town’s population of about 700 just can’t support the taxes needed to make these projects happen. “It really helped,” he said.

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SIDNEY HERALD

Fairview schools enjoy several improvements with oil funds BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD

Oil and gas revenues have greatly benefited each and every school in Richland County. Fairview Public Schools are no different. In the past five years, Fairview schools has been positively effected by the revenues, Fairview Superintendent of Schools Matt Schriver says. “Because of the oil money, we have been able to make improvements in the past five years to our schools that we may not have been able to make otherwise,” Schriver said. The construction of a bus barn and improvements to the science lab and bathrooms in the high school were among the first projects involving oil money. “There were things we were in dire need of. We were lacking bus and storage space, so we were able to build a very nice bus barn,” Schriver said. “Our bathrooms and science lab needed to be upgraded, and we had the opportunity to do that because of the extra funds.” Fairview has also used oil funding to provide its staff with classroom materi-

als that benefit the students on a yearly basis. All classrooms have received updated textbooks in the last five years. The building has also seen improvements since 2004 as new windows were put in and new lights installed throughout the entire school. “The new windows and new lights were positive improvements that needed to be made. It helped make our school more energy proficient,” Schriver said. The school used oil and gas funds for a pair of remodeling projects in the past two years. “We remodeled our kitchen as well as both locker rooms in the high school. We have been thinking about both of these projects for a while, so it was great to make those improvements to our school,” Schriver said. Fairview has been able to use oil and gas funds to make necessary improvements and upgrades to create a higher standard of its learning environment. “A person has to be pleased with what we’ve been able to do to improve our school in the past five years with the additional resources we've received. It’s been really nice,” Schriver said.

BILL VANDER WEELE | SIDNEY HERALD

A larger kitchen area is one of the changes at Fairview school.

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Oil funds make changes possible at Sidney schools purposely not put money into things that we know we can’t sustain,” he said. Once the Sidney School District has money’s gone, it’s gone. been fortunate, to say the least, In the past there’s been some to receive oil and gas tax dolcontroversy over how the monlars. Improvements have been ey is distributed. The high made right and left to its school has traditionally raked schools, and rightly so. Distribin the most money because the uted money that isn't used goes majority of oil and gas funds go directly back into the state’s into there. In the last quarterly general fund. If the money’s payment, Sidney High School there, why not use it, right? So received $800,000 compared to school officials jumped at the the elementary district – comchance to put the oil money to posed of Sidney Elementary work with the main focus School and Sidney Middle placed on infrastructure. School – which received “There’s not a building in Sid- $300,000. With the money split ney that was designed with between the two schools, it’s a technology as bit more difficult it exists toto renovate. ‘We have all these laws day,” SuperFarr said there intendent of are many restricand restrictions, dos and tions on how to Schools Daniel Farr use the money don’ts, and so you can’t given. For insaid. That includes suffistance, it’s possinecessarily do what people ble to take part of cient fire safety and the high school think you can do.’ ADA codes. oil and gas funds On the to pay for a perwhole, Sidcentage of any Dr. Daniel Farr ney schools project at the eleSidney superintendent of schools have been mentary and able to do middle schools, quite a bit but the project with the dismust have the tributed funds. New textbooks high school students using it in and equipment including comsome fashion. These rules put puters, Smart boards, profeslimitations on how to operate sional development and alterwith budgets. native education programs “We have all these laws and have been purchased for the enrestrictions, dos and don’ts,” tire district as well as increased Farr said, “and so you can’t salary bases, funding various necessarily do what people programs and student organithink you can do.” zations like the robotics club. For now, continued improveThen there’s the Health Rements through the school distirement Accounts set up for trict’s buildings are steadily bedistrict staff and faculty. Oil ing made as funds allow. School funds were used to help estabboard members are working on lish it as an incentive to come a long-term plan to address and and stay in Sidney. Additionalprioritize needs within the ly, funds were also used to schools and improving educamaintain the elementary and tional facilities for generations high school budgets allowing to come. the district to provide tax relief “Our focus is still going to be to the community. on infrastructure, really trying Farr said the school board to take care of our facilities has limited the amount of oil while we have the money availmoney put into the general able to us,” Farr said. fund budget as it may not be reporter@sidneyherald.com stable in the future. “We have BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD

A multi-purpose room was added to the high school thanks to oil revenue.

Oil & Gas Revenue Comparison - 5 year comparison Richland County allocations County government Elementary retirement High School Retirement County Transportation Schools School breakout Elementary/H.S. districts Savage/Savage Brorson/Sidney Rau/Sidney Lambert/Lambert Rural District/Sidney Brorson/Lambert Fairview/Rural District Lambert/Sidney Culbertson/Fairview Richey/Savage Fairview/Lambert Sidney/Savage Lambert/Savage Culbertson/Sidney Lambert/Fairview Culbertson/Lambert Culbertson/Savage

1st Quarter 2004 (Jan.-March) $1.9 million $883,469 $78,830 $75,369 $43,452 $841,551

1st Quarter 2009 (Jan-March) $6.4 million $2.9 million $262,220 $250,708 $144,541 $2.8 million

$1,489 $116,929 $34,106 $300,487 $109,718 $0 $213,269 $8,945 $7,492 $21,219 $1,053 $1,530 $6,772 $892 $17,650 $0 $0

$7,098 $616,151 $125,740 $1,040,470 $335,771 $18,262 $213,530 $76,384 $46,676 $53,673 $23,407 $0 $170,424 $4,550 $46,468 $10,836 $9,915

Information provided by Richland County Treasurer


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New gym floor added at school BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD

In its quest to make improvements at Sidney’s lone public elementary school, the Sidney School Board has taken note of areas in most need of replacement. Within the last year, Sidney Elementary School has undergone some much-needed improvement. The oil and gas tax money has helped to replace the school’s gym floor. A new shiny wooden floor replaces a 30-year-old stained carpet where generations of physical education classes took place and where students ate their lunches. “We really appreciate the fact we’ve got that new gym floor,” Principal Bill Nankivel said. “It makes our gym a lot more useable, and I think probably a lot more safe, sanitary.” The facelift also came with a new paint job along the walls and new lighting. The elementary school also put the money to good use with improved fencing to increase safety during recess, completed this

LOUISA BARBER | SIDNEY HERALD

Students are making use of the new gym floor at Sidney Elementary School this year. fall, and purchasing new equipment and supplies for teachers. “I think that we’ve been able to probably buy some things through the general fund that we may not have been able to get otherwise without the presence of the oil and

gas tax money,” Nankivel said. The principal added he’s grateful for the extra money from oil and gas because the projects wouldn’t have gotten done otherwise. Budgets have become tighter and money received from the state and federal

governments continue shrinking. The money makes up for short falls that would have existed relying strictly on those traditional funding sources. reporter@sidneyherald.com

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Family: Companies, individuals working together leads for success in Bakken, Three Forks/Sanish FROM PAGE 30

field’s norm. Two examples that have changed the dynamics of how and where companies drill are multi-stage fracture stimulation and drilling into the Three Forks/Sanish [TFS]. It was EOG Resources who first brought the multi-stage fracture stimulation on short laterals to the Bakken from Texas. Then, it was Brigham Exploration who continues to push the amount of frac

stages a company can implement while still being economical. While Brigham has gone up to 12, many other companies have followed the example and settled in the low teens. The other game changer, the impact of which is still unknown, is drilling into the TFS. It was first done by Continental Resources in May 2008. The location, where, it was released. Other companies took interest. As more attempted drilling the TFS, more sharing went on. Now, more than 100 wells have been drilled into the TFS.

Graph courtesy of Brigham Exploration There is still competition, and they are still oilmen doing the competing in the Bakken. However, if it’s a matter of making profit or not, even oilmen will share

their techniques with the competitors. So far, it’s continuing to make the Bakken and Three Forks/Sanish formation a success.

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Oil revenue makes Sidney Middle School projects possible BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD

Sidney Middle School is like many schools in eastern Montana that continues operating despite a deteriorating facility. But with the extra funds provided by oil and gas revenue, incremental changes allow for much-needed improvement. As the oil checks began coming into the schools just a few years ago, officials at the middle school put the money to good use, starting with the third floor with the hope of continuing their way down. The top floor houses the computer and science labs, so the needs for a modernization upgrade were there as technology is required to operate. And with new technology comes new wiring to replace the old, which easily overloads by today’s standard equipment. “There’s a huge improvement,” Principal Kelly Johnson said. It’s a whole other building

‘There’s a huge improvement.’ Kelly Johnson Sidney Middle School principal on the third floor as the hallway seems to request a quieter ambiance than the others. Soft colors on the walls and a tile floor are a stark contrast to the permanent mural designs along the walls on the first and second floors. It’s fitted with an air conditioning unit, a necessity and a refuge during the first and last months of school when temperatures are sky high. During summer 2008, new entryways were replaced, following through after plans that had already been in place. There were issues with drainage and temperature that needed addressing. Still, school officials have had to defend their im-

provement as some have said the entryways are too fancy, therefore less cost effective. Johnson said she’s pleased with the end result. “Yes, it’s probably fancier than what could’ve been done, but why not do it right? I think it’s really added to the physical look of the school,” she said. “It’s got a functional purpose as well as a nice place for students to be.” Other improvements that have been made include 16 video surveillance cameras placed around the school, a new gym floor, tile floors for the classrooms and new desks on the first and second floors as the old ones were roughly 50 years. There’s still work that needs to be done. Johnson said she hopes to eventually address projects not only on the second floor which would include repainting the walls, adding a drop ceiling and new wiring, but also the first floor where old locker rooms are falling apart.

LOUISA BARBER | SIDNEY HERALD

One of the renovated rooms at the Sidney Middle School.

But Johnson says she appreciates what money the school’s been able to receive. The elementary school district that consists of the elementary and middle school receives less money than

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the high school district. Last quarter, it received about $300,000 compared to the high school’s $800,000. reporter@sidneyherald.com

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Revolving Loan Fund helps sustain Richland County’s economy pool. They lent the money solely by themselves, competing with financial institutions. Richland County residents Messer and RED board wanthave seen their share of visible ed something a little different. changes because of the oil and “My dream was to create a regas tax revenue – improved volving loan pool that did not roads, schools and infrastruccompete with conventional ture – but what about a fund? lending but partnered with One area that may not be as them,” Messer said, noting bevisible, when discussing imcause RED had no lending expeproving the county, is the Rerience, it was a good idea to volving Loan Fund. Developed work with the experienced loby the Richland Economic Decals. velopment Corporation and the So in August 2006, RED preRichland County commissionsented a proposal to the comers, the loan missioners, askuses oil and to create a re‘We proposed to them ing gas revenue volving loan fund from the counthe oil royal$250,000 per year over a off ty to provide ties money that financial asnot taxpayer four-year period so that was sistance for dollars. “We prosmall busito them we could ultimately have posed nesses. $250,000 per year “The ultia four-year vested a million dollars.’ over mate goal is to period so that we try to keep the could ultimately businesses in have vested a milLeslie Messer Richland lion dollars,” Richland Economic Development County,” RichMesser said. land Economic With $25,000 inDevelopment vested by RED, executive director Leslie Messthe first allocation by the couner said, thereby sustaining ecoty’s oil funds was in 2007. A nomic stability and growth. year later, the first successful The start of the loan fund beloan was granted for Lucky gan in 2003 after Messer did exBuckle. tensive research on statewide “This year we’ve had a busy year. We’ve had Doorbust'n ‘Without them, it would’ve Portables and Septic Service LLC receive the second loan in been a lot tougher.’ July 2009 and just exactly a month later, KFC by Harry and Linda Metz,” she said. Harry Metz Messer said the loan fund is a Kentucky Fried Chicken owner necessity because in many instances new or even existing businesses lack the resources economic development agento get projects done using concies that were lending money in ventional lending alone. Not a revolving loan pool. What she only that, but there are no found was the majority of those “state strings” or regulations funds came from two different attached to hinder the process sources using state coffers: fedbecause it’s done without taxeral (USDA rural development) payer dollars. and state (department of comThe Metzs, who are the third merce). Now, initially the agenrecipients of the loan fund, say cies were lent money for a projthey’re grateful. “It’s definitely ect from the state which then a good thing,” Harry said. “It lent the money to a business, helped me a bunch.” The couple and when payments came back, used the money for startup the agencies kept it and relent costs including inventory and it through the revolving loan equipment. “Without them, it BY LOUISA BARBER SIDNEY HERALD

DENIECE SCHWAB | SIDNEY HERALD

Richland Economic Development executive director Leslie Messer, left, congratulates new KFC owners Harry and Linda Metz. would’ve been a lot tougher,” he said. The fund currently sits at $650,000 with another allocation scheduled in November to hit $1 million. In the meantime, the nine-member committee

continues to search for another potential project in need of some help. “Because of the existence of this fund, those projects are able to happen,” Messer said. “So we give a greater opportu-

nity for those projects that may never get the opportunity because they’re underfunded, under capitalized, under resourced if you will.” reporter@sidneyherald.com


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BBC News tells story of Sidney’s delight in oil boom BY KEVIN CONNOLLY COURTESY OF BBC NEWS ONLINE PUBLISHED OCT. 19, 2009

The small, remote town of Sidney, Montana, is true to its cowboy roots – this is ranching country and outside one bar amidst the many pickup trucks I noticed one with a huge set of bull horns stuck jauntily to the cab. But Sidney has another reason to feel bullish too: as America agonises over its future energy choices, Sidney is revelling in an oil boom. The town’s mayor, Bret Smelser, took me for a drive through the town and across the flat farmland that stretches off to the horizon in every direction to see the changes oil has brought. Inside Sidney – population about 5,000 the changes leap to the eye. There’s a new waterslide, for example, plenty of evidence of heavy investment in local schools and a startling number of slot-machine casinos whose operators presumably calculate that the townspeople and workers from the oil fields have money to burn. There is an urban myth that it has also meant that Sidney has the highest-paid

pizza delivery guy in North America, but we’ll come back to that. Mayor Smelser sums up the situation so far simply: “Oil has been good for us.”

SHALE RESERVES On the landscape beyond the town limits, the change is less spectacular but equally impressive. Dotted around the farmland are hundreds of nodding-donkey oil wells which are strangely reminiscent of the kind of pumps you’d have seen in action during oil booms in Texas, California or Oklahoma a century ago. The similarity is deceptive. The oil boom up on the Northern Great Plains is based on dramatic changes in drilling technology. Oil deposits beyond the reach of even the most modern pumps and drills 20 years ago are now viable. Sidney – and plenty of other small towns like it on the Great Plains of North Dakota and Montana – sit on top of the shale reserves of the Bakken Formation. They were first discovered and mapped in the 1950s but back then there was no way of reaching them. Now, new technologies are changing the definition of what is, and is not, a recover-

able oil deposit. The modern nodding-donkeys are sitting on top of a complex network of hitech pipes which bore down two miles into the earth’s crust then make a sharp right-angled turn and travel up to two miles horizontally into the oil-bearing shale. Every so often, the light, sweet, crude has to be dislodged and flushed out with steam or water forced down under huge pressure.

APPETITE FOR OIL All this is taking place, of course, in the midst of Barack Obama’s attempt to make the U.S. a “greener” place – partly to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and partly to create some sense of American leadership as the world prepares for the UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen. “ We’re at the epicentre of energy, whether that’s traditional or renewable, ” Mayor Smelser said. As a candidate, Mr. Obama talked about harnessing the power of the wind and the sun and increasing U.S. research into projects like building a smarter electricity grid, arguing that in these cases what’s

good for the planet can be good for American jobs too. Mayor Smelser, up on the frontline of America’s energy choices in Sidney, says he doesn’t necessarily disagree with any of that – in fact he’d like to see Montana starting to refine more of the oil it produces and getting into alternative energies too. It’s just that he believes that the timeframe for reducing America’s appetite for oil and bringing alternative energy on stream in a big way is much longer than the White House likes to contemplate. Wind and solar power, he says, won’t be big enough to supply America for years. Oil is right here, right now. He told me: “We know that a new source of energy is going to come, whether it’s hydrogen, whatever it is. We’re saying we need a bridge between now and then and we’re at the epicentre of energy, whether that’s traditional or renewable.”

AMERICAN DREAM It is all a reminder of the obvious, but sometimes overlooked, point: that for all the talk of global warming and green

SEE BBC NEWS | PAGE 47

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BBC News: Invitation to unemployed, jobs still available in Sidney area FROM PAGE 46

energy, America is essentially still powered by coal (for electricity generation) and gasoline. That is good news for farmers like Scott Staffanson, a thoughtful, strong, slowtalking character who lives just outside Sidney but whose family also receives a steady income from the oil discovered far below the land on which he grows his crops and tends his cattle. His take on what that extra income means is interesting. It doesn’t give him wealth beyond the dreams of avarice – it just finances his slice of the American dream. “This is the first year since I started farming that I didn’t need to go to the bank to borrow money to operate with,” he said. “I’ve got four girls and by the time they get done with college, I don’t imagine we’re going to have a lot of money to do a lot of lucrative things.”

JOBS GALORE And the rumours of that sky-high pizza delivery salary? Well, at the height of the boom it was re-

ported that someone in the local fast food industry was being paid $38 an hour to shuttle around the town with pepperoni and four seasons pizzas – a job which wouldn’t normally pay far above minimum wage here. No-one is quite sure where the figure came from but there’s no doubt that the high salaries available in the local oil fields have made it difficult for other local employers to find workers. Bill Ackley, who manages a local restaurant called Footer’s, says it is a long-running problem. “The rest of the country is basically suffering because there’s no jobs where they’re at but we keep telling them to head this way because there’s more than enough,” he said. “I won’t say our wages have doubled but they’ve gone up to compete with the oil and gas, and we just can’t compete with them.”

And, of course, to exploit the Bakken oil deposits you have to drill into the lonely majesty of the Great Plains... transforming a great wilderness with the intrusion of so many nodding-donkey pumps. Mayor Smelser, who loves his town and the remote stretch of Montana that lies around it, says that on balance he feels it’s worth it. He said: “I don’t speak for everyone but I think the majority of us understands that this is just something we have to do.

“This half of Montana only has maybe 20,000 people living in it and many of the people on the farms benefit from the minerals and are ready to put up with it.” So perhaps over the course of Barack Obama’s time in power a cleaner, greener America will emerge – and we will get some sense of that from Copenhagen – but in the meantime, the oil lobby in places like Sidney, Montana, is strong. And so is America’s appetite for Sidney’s oil.

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Tappin' the Bakken  

A side view of the Richland County oil industry.