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Summer Issues
Energy Trucking

Our Summer issues often take a break from the heavier info as the energy industry as a whole is without question in the most critical period it has ever faced.  Coal and oil are in trouble.  Natural gas seems more optimistic than it should be. Renewables are fading fast despite arguments to the contrary...

Behind the Times
The Energy Industry sits in a strange space when it comes to innovation.  It’s almost schizophrenic in this space as it is simultaneously at the cutting edge of technological  advancement while fighting harder than any other industry to ignore it.  Exploration and Production is the easiest example to point to in this analysis as fracking technology is state of the art and ever-evolving...

Power Logistics
The energy infrastructure, power capacity, and energy delivery of any nation is without debate, inexorably reliant on the trucking industry.  This should be an obvious statement to all Americans, but even those who have a grasp on the critical importance of trucking to the nation, and the world, are likely woefully under informed about the gravity of this fact.  Looking at just one set of numbers may drive home this notion:  In 2012, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States (which is the total monetary value of all the finished goods...

The Dangerous Business of Energy Trucking
This issue of Energy Ink is for the truckers.  We’ve always included at least one article about the trucking industry in each issue because of trucker’s importance to the energy industry.  Two and a half years ago, when we were still a fairly new publication, our third issue focused on safety issues in the energy industry.  In that issue (Winter 2014), we ran the following article specific to the dangers of trucking.  We feel it important…

Test Your Knowledge
So, if you’re a trucker and not really interested in hearing more about what you should be doing to be safer, maybe you should prove your knowledge of the notion that you do know better than those who aren’t behind the wheel. If your not a trucker, the information herein is rather eye-opening in regards to the dangers these guys face.  The questions are in bold…. The answers are in the paragraph that follows...

Nikola One Electric Semi
Upon seeing the Nikola One, Nikola Motors’ revolutionary electric semi-tracker design, I immediately remembered one of John Wayne’s most popular movies, “Big Jake”.  Taking place in 1909, Wayne hunts the men who kidnapped his grandson with his sons, the youngest of which is embracing the technology of the turn of the century to help in the hunt.  Son Michael rides a motorcycle into battle while holstering the …

Summer Issues

Energy Ink is mass distributed to dozens of locations in Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas, distributed to sixteen Energy Expos in five states and one in China, and is direct mailed to individuals in forty-two states and Canada.  Some companies entire board of ...

Workplace Culture
KLJ is a growing multidisciplinary professional services firm with more than 750 employees throughout the Midwest and Florida, but it’s not just any ordinary, growing company. What began as a small family firm has evolved into a dynamic leader in engineering excellence. A vital...

Aftermath: Is the Storm Over?
It sounds melodramatic, but it is terribly serious.  The oil industry, and perhaps the global economy, is standing at a crossroads.  Down one path, the storm is over... and it has been a storm.  Tens of thousands of jobs lost, billions of dollars in capital evaporated, and the promise ...   

A Tale of Two Scenarios
Citibank has put it in perspective.  The oil industry is in such trouble that the global economy is being threatened.  In a recent New York Daily Magazine article, a Citi strategist warned that due to the extended oil price collapse, the global economy “appears to be trapped in a death spiral".   Just because oil prices are coming back, that doesn’t mean the worst is over.  Recall last Summer when the same appeared…

Low Prices Through 2017?
The Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) released on January 12, which is the first STEO to include projections for 2017, forecasts Brent crude oil prices will average $40 per barrel (b) in 2016 and $50/b in 2017. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices are expected to be $2/b lower than Brent in 2016 and $3/b lower than Brent in 2017...

War of the Currents
Homeless children had been paid a few pennies by Harold Brown, an electrical engineer (a relatively new job title in 1888) to gather stray dogs for the demonstration which would take place before the New York Board of Electrical Control at Columbia College July 30th of that year.  Brown entered the room of electrical engineers and press and began by stating he had no hidden intentions in proving to the Board, and those in attendance, …

Summer Issues

I recently spoke with the CEO of a coal mining services company.  In discussing the general state of the industry, he said in a rather distressed tone, “It’s like the Titanic.” In speaking with dozens of individuals in both the coal and oil industry, I’ve found, ...

2016 Outlook
Oil is now less expensive than water as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, was trading at $35.22 a barrel as of December 14th, 2015, about 84 cents a gallon.  The national average for a gallon of distilled water is about $1.25. Simply, 2016 is shaping up to be worse than 2015 for fossil fuel economics.  The pressures of oversupply for petroleum markets will be further …

The Next Generation of Exploration
In E&P’s early days, the “exploration” side wasn’t much more than looking for oil that was leeching to the surface (known as a “seep”) – that is where you drilled.  The only other manner of finding oil was wildcatting.  True “wildcatter’s” literally took a guess that oil might be found and drilled in hopes they hit a pay zone.  That term developed from a legend …

Well Site Losses
As is the inevitable outcome of the next ivory in line of a falling line dominos, the fallout from the oil down turn is now manifesting itself in increased theft and vandalism at U.S. and Canadian drilling …

Midstreams Deep Water
A significant portion of the cost of oil comes from its transportation from well-site to refinery.  Most people are well aware that rail cars and pipelines do much of this work, but the process of getting the oil t …

Solid State: LED Lighting
Kids just don’t understand that when we tell someone to “dial” a phone number, the reference comes from the old rotary phone where we actually had to stick a finger in a dial. And if you made a mistake, there was no back button.  “Dialing” long distance could actually get time consuming ...

What the Paris Agreement Means
Some 195 nations met in Paris in early December with one goal:  Limit global emissions of greenhouse gasses in order to mitigate global climate change.  Their goal was to ensure that industrialized nations begin addressing emissions by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and increasing ...


Summer Issues
Fall 2015 Cover

Everyone’s focus has been on the rough times the oil industry is facing.  What few realize is that the coal industry is likely up against the worst year it’s ever seen.  When we first undertook reporting the outlook of the coal industry in our 2013 Fall Issue, the industry was facing mounting regulations, record plant closures, and a coordinated assault by environmental groups. Little has changed since then ...

A Bad Year for Coal
This year, 2015, has arguably been the worst year on record for the coal fired power industry and coal mining. The United States has seen a record number of coal fired plant closures; the industry shattering MATS (Mercury Air Toxic Standards) went into effect; the Clean Power Plan rule was announced;  the Coal Index (the general stock market indicator for the coal industry) has dropped by over 60% since January; …

Are the Feds Really Trying to Kill Coal?
Conclusion #1:  Can Legislation, Regulation, or Executive Action End the Coal Power Industry? Two years ago, we reported, and argued that: After Obama’s election, he began pushing for what turned into one of his administration’s ugliest congressional fights, the heated issue of “Cap and Trade”, which was essentially an effort to force companies to pay for their carbon emissions output.  The Cap and Trade measure failed to pass Congress...

Murder, Suicide, or Old Age?
Conclusion #2:  Will the Closing of Coal Fired Power Plants End the Coal Power Industry? Are environmentalists really powerful enough to close a power plant?  Our assumption in the Fall of 2013 was that the Environmental movement…

Can Renewables Replace Coal?
Conclusion #3: Can Renewable Energy End the Coal Power Industry? Two years ago we asserted that renewable energy is not capable of providing the base load power the United States needs for at least 25 years, if not longer. In the Fall 2013 issue, we …

The Real Threat: Natural Gas?
Though itConclusion #4:  Could Natural Gas End the Coal Power Industry? In our 2013 Issue Coal feature, we showed that natural gas is the biggest threat to the coal industry in the United States because it had become less expensive to burn than coal… but we also


Summer Issues
Summer 2015

This issue of the Ink is seemingly off the beaten path.  We aren’t talking about the oil downturn, the troubles the coal industry is facing, the controversy of the development of renewables, or anything that would inform both industry professionals and the general ...

The V-Twin Engine
The V-Twin Engine is iconic.  The evolution of American freedom since the early 1900’s can be tied directly to it. The ability to roam unencumbered and without restriction throughout the country has made motorcycles, largely driven by the V-Twin, emblematic of …

Engine Power Defined
Anyone who rides has a basic understanding of what makes their bike fly down the highway.  When the throttle is opened up a lot of mechanical components are working in synchronous order, all of which are dependant on the ultimate powerplant …

War & Oil. A Retrospective Look at the First Gulf War
The CIA blew it.  Charged with having “eyes-on” every potential global threat to the United States, the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi forces on August 2nd, 1990 came as a total surprise to the U.S. … and the world.  Oil is power.  But in this context, the power referred to is not regarding energy. Controlling …

The Battle of 73 Easting
The Syro-Arabian Desert is a true wasteland covering a vast expanse across parts of Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.  It was this deadly sand lined oven that Saddam Hussein assumed no army could traverse in challenging his massive army’s occupation of Kuwait. Planted firmly in the desert were some of his most experienced elite troops…

Slaying Dragons: Capping Kuwaits Oil Well Fires
Though it was late winter, the desert temperatures had already climbed into the 90’s as elite teams approached the battle front.  But this battle was to be waged against the ovens of hell itself and the warriors were firefighters.  By late February of 1991, the Iraqi military, retreating in defeat from Kuwait after coalition forces punished …


Summer Issues
Spring 2015 Energy Ink

Energy Ink has been fortunate in that our focus on “everything energy” has allowed us to weather the storm of low oil prices, thus far.  Other publications whose more specific focus is on just the petroleum industry, or just one play like the Bakken, are undoubtedly...

The Shale Play Window: The Boom is Over
Defining a “bust” in economic terms is a bit harder than defining a boom.  A bust, in its simplest form, is a dramatic decrease in economic growth or production.  Terminology of this sort makes things a bit foggy for an industry like oil as production growth can continue …

Mounting Casualties
As expected, the dramatic drop in crude oil prices is having a deep impact on the American Oil industry.  Just how deep the impact would be as the “Ink” went to press back in December 2014 was a matter of speculation. But as prices for Brent Crude dropped …

Texas Downturn: Is a Recession on the Way?
The Texas economy is larger than most nations on the planet with a global ranking of 14th largest.  At roughly $1.5 trillion dollars, its gross domestic product is larger than South Korea, Sweden, and Mexico.  It is responsible for nearly 10% of all economic output in …

Mirage: Is the Shale Gas Industry a Swindle?
An allegation about the true nature of shale gas has been gaining momentum since 2009. The warning is that the shale gas industry is essentially engaged in a Ponzi scheme, where actual profits are mythical numbers masked by creative accounting.  The claim …

Safety On-Site: The Pre-Shift Inspection Process
The decision to add fire suppression systems to your fleet is a great investment not only to protect the equipment itself but for the safety of the operator. Fire suppression systems work if installed and maintained properly. Once installed it is very important that …



Occasionally, the obviously just needs to be stated.  This issue of Energy Ink focuses on what is turning out to be a real crisis in the unprecedented march forward of shale-oil production; and what seems to be a potential crisis for coal fired generation. Both issues ultimately...

Will the Saudi's Break the Bakken?
The curious drop in gasoline prices which dipped below $2.35 in December 2014 for the first time in five years may be welcome by consumers, but the accompanying dive in crude oil prices has U.S. oil producers concerned.  Following a decade of over speculation…

How Low? The Future of Oil
Every economist has an opinion as to where oil. Prices may eventually bottom out and how the bottom will affect the U.S. shale industry.  Some use complex algorithms while others are quite frankly just speculating (guessing).  The truth, of course, is no one really knows.   Regardless…

Coal's Conundrum: The Rail Road Bottleneck
An already beleaguered coal industry is now facing challenges in the delivery and receipt of the nation’s most abundant fuel source.  Demand from Coal Fired power utilities is up and there is more than enough coal in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana to meet…

Past Due: The Economic Impact of Record Rail Delays
Coal delivery problems from the Powder River Basin (PRB) have required several electricity providers including Wisconsin based Dairyland Power Coop to use higher cost generation.  They and other electricity providers have had to take coal fired boilers offline to conserve…

The Future of Rail: Will Federal Regulation Help or Hurt?
Industry – especially the energy industry - is heavily reliant on rail carriers.  If carriers can not untangle the current congestion problems which are squelching economic growth in many sectors, the Federal Government will act.  But the question is, will their actions actually help, or exacerbate…

The Energy Mix: A Look at How Our Nation is Powered
To be honest, we’ve been bumping this “article in graphs” from the pages of past issues due to the need for space as we’ve felt is necessary to report more important issues to our readership. Simply, it is a look at how the nation’s and our region’s energy mix...

Under Pressure: New Rules for Bakken Crude
North Dakota regulators foisted a new set of standards on the oil industry on December 9th, 2014 aimed at fur­ther separating volatile gases from Bakken crude oil to make it safer for rail transport in the wake of several ex­plosive train derailments...

The Energy Classroom: The Price of Gasoline
The single biggest factor in the price of gasoline is the cost of the crude oil from which it is refined. U.S. Energy In­formation Administration (EIA) analysis of the petroleum market points to fluctuations in the price of crude oil as the main contributor to the substantial changes in gasoline prices experienced by the United States

Energy Ink Summer 2014

With the coming midterm elections in November, it seemed logical for the Ink to tackle the core issues of the energy debate – politics.  Unfortunately, the complex myriad of issues driving the political discourse of the debate over energy development in the United States required us...

How Politics are Affecting our Energy Future
Our nation tends to be more liberal at present than conservative.  However, there are many shades of red and blue within that split as well as a very significant shading of purple.  Some 39% of Americans consider themselves moderates – either by …

No Compromise: Extremism in the Energy Debate
Boiled down to the most basic issue in the debate over energy development is environmental protection versus energy and economic security.  Can we have both?  According to the most vocal and extreme elements on either side of the debate, the answer is a resounding…

How Crisis Gives Rise to Extremism: The Current State of the Energy Debate
Extremism has often affected the political landscape of American history.  This is because the opposing views of Liberals and Conservatives are truly rooted in the very foundations of the government.  When a social or economic crisis arises, those roots of division become more …

The Energy Interview: Senator Alan Simpson
Energy Ink Magazine’s Editor, Eric Sharpe, was fortunate to interview Senator Alan K. Simpson, retired three term Republican Senator from Wyoming on August 20th, 2014.  Their discussion dealt with the topics of energy politics, the current divisions of the political landscape, and his more recent work as…  

Where Do You Stand?
The citizens of our region understand better than anyone else in the nation the vital importance of continued development of our natural resources.  Coal, oil, and natural gas not only make up the core fuel sources key to global development, they also make up make up the key economic driver for our region. But before …  

Hot Potato: The Question of Global Warming and the Energy Debate
The energy debate in this country, and the world, is truly about two factors: The environment (or more specifically Global Warming) and economics. The facts about Global Warming, also referred to as Global Climate Change have been mired in controversy since it was first …  

Cold Reality: The Economic Implications of the Global Warming Debate
Drawing the conclusion that increasing levels of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is hazardous, or moreover, accepting that Global Warming is caused by humans, carries with it extremely serious economic implications.  In this, the real danger in accepting that Global Warming is man-made comes from an increasing…  

The Power of NGOs
Cloud Peak Energy’s CEO Colin Marshall is no extremist.  In an April interview with Energy Ink, the head of America’s fourth largest coal producer (and major producer of Wyoming coal) was frank about his views on the coal industry and its opponents.  He understands the fears of environmentalists, remembering …  

The Port of Vancouver
The three key points of debate in the energy fight are over upstream, midstream, and downstream development.  Though such terms typically refer to the petroleum industry, they provide an understandable definition for all energy development issues.  Upstream refers to the search for, and …  

Total Victory 2035: A Hypothetical Scenario
By 2015, Americans have turned against fossil fuel development as a ground swell of concern for Global Warming has forced the government to pass an Amendment to the Constitution outlawing all fossil fuel development. .  But this prohibition is reasonable… it gives coal energy producers…  

The Case for Compromise
Despite everything discussed in this comprehensive issue of Energy Ink, America needs these extremists.  People whose views are “ideologically consistent” and unwavering are necessary in that they are the ones who truly provide the checks and balances for issues that otherwise may negatively affect the nation…  

Energy Ink Summer 2014

Editorial: Buying American?
Cultural xenophobia. That's a straightforward yet complicated way of explaining a person's or persons' "unreasoned" fear of, or prejudice against, things that are foreign. A xenophobe then is a person who has fear or anger toward another nation's people, ideas, or culture. It may be...

Hydro Basics
The term “renewable energy” has ironically almost become a dirty word to some conservatives as its use in a sentence reminds them of the impact the green energy revolution has had on fossil fuel development.  Liberals see “renewable energy” as the desperately needed future…

Odd Man Out: Why Hydroelectric Power Isn't Considered Renewable
A renewable, clean energy source should be simple to identify.  If the source can not be depleted and produces virtually zero greenhouse gases, it meets the two standards of definition of “clean and renewable.” Regardless of seemingly meeting this standard, the world’s largest electricity…

Hydrology: Pictorial
Hydrology is the study of the movement, allocation, and quality of water on Earth.  This article isn’t really about that.  But it does refer to the fact that most of the regions inhabitants are largely unaware of the tremendous opportunities for recreation and education our regions…

The Global Dam Boom: Is the U.S. Falling Behind?
A new power boom from an unlikely source is taking hold across the globe. As oil and natural gas production increases capture headlines, global hydroelectric power generation is expanding at an historic rate. Spurring this growth is the World Bank which has committed funds to…  

Fracking: the Environmental Question Part 2
In our Spring 2014 Issue we took on some of the more interesting questions of debate surrounding the issue of fracking.  As we stated in part one, “Research for this article has taken one of the more aggravating routes we’ve had to navigate in looking…  

The EPA Mandate on Coal Fired Energy
We made the claim in our Fall 2013 Issue:  The War on Coal isn’t about killing coal, it’s about taxing it - heavily. It seems we were right.  In June of 2013, President Obama announced plans for sweeping reforms in coal fired power generation. His Climate…  

Safety Onsite: Construction Safety Basics
Close to 6.5 million construction workers are at work today at 250,000 plus construction sites across the country.  But three of those millions won’t be working today, or ever again.  Another sixteen thousand won’t be making it to their worksite as they are either…  

Energy Classroom Coal Basic
Coal is the United States’, and world’s, leading source of electricity, and is second only to oil in total energy production.  But as we continue to discuss coal’s importance and controversial nature, the Ink thought it was time to give our general readership a basic…  

Energy Ink Spring

Editorial: The Importance of a Marketing Mentality in the Energy Business
Before diving in here, I need to acknowledge a few guys who pulled me out of a jam outside of Tioga, ND last January.  While cruising to New Town in doing some work for the magazine, I drove right into a partial white out winter...

The Bakken Effect: Big Money. Big Problems. Boomtowns and Child Neglect
Oil and gas production is nothing new to the Williston Basin of Montana and North Dakota. Although the current wave of drilling began in 2001, the first horizontal well drilling in the Bakken dates back to the late 1980’s.  History has proven ...

Montana's Sage Grouse Problem
With the possibility of the sage grouse being listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) looming on the horizon, Montana must face the question of how to best protect this wild bird  while simultaneously protecting the industries ...

Welcome to the Circus: The Amazing Bakken
Cut me some slack… please.  I know the images on this page are a bit… much.  They don’t exactly fit the hardcore mud covered image the Bakken typically has, but there’s some reasoning behind it all. But before that explanation, I’d ask you for ...

Fractured Mentality: The Confusion Surrounding Hydraulic Fracturing
Thousands of articles and research papers have been written on the process, yet none beyond dry technical works have ever covered the process of hydraulic fracturing in a way that is truly understandable to the majority of Americans who don’t have an engineering degree...

Fracking Illustrated
Finding a balanced explanation of the fracking process online or in the literature of newspapers and magazines is impossible.  More often than not, the explanation is so simplified that much is left to the imagination.  In a few cases, sources provide ...

What is Shale Oil?
To understand why shale oil plays have become the driving force in the American oil industry, a brief primer on “conventional” oil needs to be understood.  For a century, most oil came from the familiar drilling process where a rig bores into the earth until...

Under Earth: A Comprehensive Look at Drilling in the Bakken
Again, for those who fully understand this process, please bear with some shortcuts in explanation.  This one is for “everybody else”.  Though the processes are similar, each explanation which follows speaks to the process of drilling oil wells rather than natural gas...

Fracking Explained
The process of hydraulic fracturing is tremendously misunderstood. Fracking itself is not a drilling process, nor does it take place in conjunction with the drilling process.  Nearly every layman’s guide to fracking includes incorrect cartoon ...

The Environmental Question: And other points of fact & fiction in the fracking debate
Research for this article has taken one of the more aggravating routes we’ve had to navigate in looking for the truth on an array of energy topics for our readers.  The heap of misinformation on the topic of hydraulic fracturing is mind ...

Big Wages: Big Expenses. The Cost of Living in the Bakken
By now, most people in our region could likely write an article on the basic economics of the Bakken due to the repeated stories of the economic impact by the Bakken boom.  But in case you’ve not been paying attention, let’s dispense ...

The Russians and a Pending Natural Gas War
That old familiar smell is being carried along the political winds.  At least if you are over the age of thirty, that air is familiar.  Russian aggression in the Crimea region of the Ukraine seems to be a mere repeat of bad behavior ...

Safety Feature: Safety Onsite. Part 2: High Reliability Organizations
Safety is business.  Without that basic understanding, any company can get caught up in forgetting that just a minor accident will put the breaks on operational success.  Though some companies in the coal, oil, gas, and wind ...

Northern Plains Energy Ink Magazine is now just ENERGY INK MAGAZINE!
Before embarking on the task of launching Energy Ink Magazine in early 2013, we did some fairly exhaustive “groundwork” in determining whether or not a publication with our ambitious mindset would actually work. In doing so, we chose a few potential names for... READ MORE

The Lac Megantic Explosion: How a Canadian Disaster Could Change the Bakken
If it had happened in the United States, it would have gained similar headline status that the Boston Marathon bombing or the Denver movie theater shootings had.  If it had happened in the United States, it is nearly guaranteed that transporting fracked oil by rail... READ MORE

A Perfect Collection of Failures: What went wrong at Lac Megantic
At first, the engineer of “MMA2”, the unit train which devastated the small city of Lac-Megantic in explosions and flame, was hailed a hero by his company, Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway... READ MORE

Bakken Blitz: Is Bakken Crude More Dangerous?
The crude oil that fueled the explosion  and fire which decimated Lac Megantic in Quebec came from North Dakota.  It is hard to imagine that anyone living or working in the Bakken would not have at the very least some sense of connection to the ... READ MORE

Energy Accidents: The State of Safety in the Energy Industry
The energy employee works in one of the most dangerous industries in the nation.  A fairly obvious fact.  What is not so obvious is that the danger has been increasing at a rather alarming rate in some sectors.  Fatal work injuries in Coal Mining increased... READ MORE

The Dangerous Business of Energy Trucking
The fire raged so hot that the concrete of the overpass began to actually explode as the moisture within it boiled.  The driver of the diesel fuel carrier had come to a stop under the overpass on Highway 60 in California after seeing flames trailing his tanker... READ MORE

Safety by the Numbers:  What Does the Data Say About Safety in the Energy Industry?
A strange coincidence appeared in the data in regards to Energy Ink’s three state coverage area.  As of 2011, North Dakota ranked as the most dangerous state for workers (of all occupations) in the nation.  The national fatality rate per 100,000 workers... READ MORE

Capital Losses: Property Crime on the Rise in the Bakken
Certainly when considering issues of safety, the human costs of injuries and fatalities pile far higher than any monetary value in medical expenses or legal settlements can state.  But for any company, safety is also a matter of economics; not just in protecting its... READ MORE

Common Sense Theft Prevention:  Not so common?
From Construction Data Company News by Kendall Jones
Erecting an 8-ft. tall, razor wire topped fence with infrared security cameras surrounding the perimeter with armed security guards on patrol after hours isn’t always a viable option. So let’s take a look at some of the other preventative measures you can take to ... READ MORE

Could ‘Clean Coal’ Finally Live up to Its Name
From Smithsonian.com By Dan Ferber
An experimental new technology captures more than 99% of the carbon dioxide from burning coal.  Not long ago, the phrase “clean coal” seemed like an oxymoron. Coal-fired power plants emit a witch’s brew of air pollutants that, unless it is removed with scrubbers... READ MORE

BIG Safety Article 1 Go Fever
We are not a “pay to play” publication - meaning, we’ve turned down four companies that have approached us in the past wanting to flat our pay us to run “canned articles” written to look as though they were legitimately researched and independently produced ... READ MORE

How the North Dakota Oil boom and a nonprofit are changing a Montana community
by Ashley Fagerstrom-Undes Family Support Network
Satellite photos showing the Bakken Oil Field from space display a cluster of lights rivaling those of an urban city bustling with millions of people. And in the light of day, the view is equally impressive. The thousands of workers drilling during the day ... READ MORE

Understand Intangible Drilling Costs
by Jessica Sena, Montana Petroleum Association
Dave Galt, Executive Director for the Montana Petroleum Association, explains, “These aren’t ‘subsidies’. IDCs are part of a century-old accounting standard that encourages investment to provide foundation capital that makes production possible for small... READ MORE

The Energy Classroom:  Emissions Controls: Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow

Why U.S. Thermal Coal Could Rebound in 2014

Rig Count Doesn’t Count: Bakken Oil Production tops 1 Million Barrels Per Month

U.S. crude oil production on track to surpass imports for first time since 1995

North America leads the world in production of shale gas

Wyo petroleum association willing to support tax hike to tackle 1,000's of orphan gas wells

Dragline: An Introduction to our Five Article Series on “The War on Coal"
The title of our series of articles on the coal industry in this quarter’s issue of “the Ink” titled “Dragline” may confuse some.  A dragline is a piece of heavy machinery that uses a huge winch and bucket system, often in strip-mining operations to remove overburden (rocks and dirt) above coal seams.  It is also the strong strand of silk produced by spiders to create the framework of a web.  Its dual meaning ... READ MORE

Will Coal Fired Energy Survive the Decade?
A Point by point examination of whether the Coal Energy Generation Industry is Facing Its End. When President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan this summer, he essentially aimed the big guns of government at the coal industry. By directing the Environmental Protection Agency to draft carbon emission standards for coal fired power plants ... READ MORE

By the Numbers. The Future Outlook for the Coal Industry
That facts show that the Federal Government has made great attempts to cut into the coal industry’s total share of the nation’s electricity generation output as well as its ability to mine for coal.  Combined with the mere bad timing of the decline in natural gas prices, increasing harsh regulations, and a well organized anti-coal campaign, those attempts saw some success. ... READ MORE
Mixed Messages: Politic, Pundits, and Talking Points
Blurring the Truth War on Coal... on both sides. Though a real fight is taking place and casualties are mounting on the side of the industry, by and large, the industry actually seems to be standing strong.  The problem is that they and their supporters either aren’t really aware of it, or they don’t want to acknowledge ... READ MORE
Push Pull
The Hard Truth about the Coal Industry's Public Relations. What is likely most noticeably absent in the outline of problems facing the coal industry in this issue of Northern Plains Energy Ink is a discussion of the extremely contentious and sustained anti-coal protests that have been mounted by local citizens groups and national environmental activists... READ MORE
Fall Editorial Page
A Montana Business Legend - Town Pump Founder Tom Kennelly, Sr. Passes. This issue of Energy Ink Magazine is pretty politically charged.  It may very well get some blood boiling and could actually lead to a few flying expletives, so, keep your children out of ear shot.  The energy game is inherently political... READ MORE

A Shocker for the Bakken
Obama supports Fracking? What was once considered an unbelievable stance for the pro-environmentalist administration, President Obama has firmly stated his support for hydraulic fracturing. This shocker is so unbelievable in fact that for months after his first outright statements after reelection, many of his liberal supporters and conservatives opponents ... READ MORE

Weigh science, instead of conjecture, on dangers of coal-train dust
By Dr. Roger O. McClellan
WASHINGTON and Oregon are in the middle of an intense debate about whether to expand facilities to ship coal to Asia.  As a former resident of Washington state and one who has family that lives in the area, I have followed this issue with interest. As a scientist who spent my career in toxicology evaluating human health risks, what I am seeing in this debate concerns me ... READ MORE

New Rule will Limit who can Perform DOT Physicals
By Amanda Hannah, MBA, Manager of Occupational Health; Billings Clinic
Motor carriers and commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers are no strangers to changes in DOT regulations.  Next year, one more change becomes effective that will impact which providers can perform DOT physicals and issue Medical Examiner’s Certificates for interstate CMV drivers.  Drivers and ... READ MORE

What Opportunity Looks Like: Teachers Get Oil & Gas Education
By Jessica Sena, Montana Petroleum Association
The Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation hosted their 9th annual Teachers Workshop on Oil & Gas Resources at MSUB in Billings last month during the week of June 24th. Forty two teachers from across Montana, predominantly in Math and Science, spent a week on campus to attend workshops covering everything from geology, to hydraulic fracturing and drilling, to refining. ... READ MORE

USGS Spring Release of New Oil and Gas Assessment for Bakken and Three Forks Formations
Formations Have Greater Resource Potential than Previously Thought. WASHINGTON, D.C. —The United States Geological Survey (USGS) today released an updated oil and gas resource assessment for the Bakken Formation and a new assessment for the Three Forks Formation in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. The assessments found that the formations contain an estimated mean of 7.4 billion barrels (BBO) of undiscovered... READ MORE

The Energy Classroom: Understanding Catalysts and Catalytic Converters
By John W. Robinson, Jr. Catalytic Combustion Corporation, Vice President, Catalyst Group
Beginning in 2007, all diesel engine manufacturers in nation were required to have a catalytic converter (sometimes referred to particulate filters) and a soot filter inline.  New semi trucks actually have two catalytic converters ... READ MORE

Summer Issue

Powerline Wars: Why High Voltage Transmission Lines Don't Get Built
The incredible developments in the Northern Plains energy industry is highlighting problems in the region’s high voltage power line transmission network.There is a potential crisis looming in the Northern Plains energy industry.  Despite record growth in some areas of production, the aging electric grid is already working at maximum capacity with some lines in the region so congested there is virtually no space left ... READ MORE

Blackout: Opportunity Lost: The Future Without High Voltage Transmission Lines
As of today, the damage of our aging 1960’s era infrastructure and lack of transmission lines for transporting power sales to the Northwest isn’t as bad as it could be as far as economic impact. Booming energy demand in Asia has actually increased the number of jobs in the region’s coal sector to meet demand. New wind generation projects coming online in the near future likely won’t be affected as their ... READ MORE

Record Rail Run: The Call for More Rail Cars
Perhaps more than anyone else in the region, Montana’s city residents are aware of the recent resurgence of the rail industry in our region.  The increased railcar traffic passing through most of the state’s major cities has raised the ire of environmentalists and some non-activist Montanan’s alike concerning noise pollution, fears of assumed health hazards, and delays of vehicles at key rail crossings ... READ MORE

Wishful Thinking: Options for the Future
My original thoughts on this amounted to a drawn out essay on solutions our region could and should implement to solve the problems of electricity transmission capacity in our region.  Then I deleted all of it.  How can I suppose to solve such problems through a set of idealized notions when the best people in the field have already, in some cases, spent half a lifetime attempting to fix it? Boiled down my ... READ MORE

Driver Drought: The Drive to fill the Trucking Demand
People in our region know that the Northern Plains and trucking go hand in hand.  The old time image of a lone cowboy sitting on his horse on a windy hill might still exist in some parts, but the true lone cowboy out there now is the long haul trucker.  It may also be a fairly well known fact in these parts that truck drivers are in high demand.  The money has always been pretty good but when the Bakken rush ... READ MORE

Getting on TRAC in the Bakken
By Laura and Kendall McCrae, Synergy Station
For those actively engaged in commerce or simply living in the Bakken, the needs are immediate, multifaceted, and far-reaching.  To quote Tom Rolfstad, the executive director of the Williston EDA, “we need everything”.  So how does “everything” translate into opportunity if you don’t hold mineral rights, or you’re not an experienced oil field investor? And how with no central conduit for conducting business or ... READ MORE

Summer Editorial Page
Northern Plains Energy Ink Magazine is a free quarterly publication available throughout Eastern Montana, Western North Dakota, and Northern Wyoming serving as the region’s best source of information on arguably the most important industry to our Nation ...READ MORE



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