October 16, 2015: I should have posted it -- when I saw the video of the air-to-air refueling of the unmanned drone my first thought was that we might see a refueling wing return to Grand Forks AFB. And now this story from The Dickinson Press:
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Thursday he's convinced the growing unmanned aircraft systems activity at Grand Forks Air Force Base has made it more relevant on the national scene.
Earlier that day, Hoeven attended a groundbreaking for a $10 million facility at Grand Sky, a business park made possible through the creation of lease between the base, Grand Forks County and Grand Sky Development Co.
The base shares close ties with the facility's first tenant, Northrop Grumman, which manufactures the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft--several of which reside in base hangars.
In an interview with the Grand Forks newspaper’s editorial board, Hoeven said with the progress of Grand Sky, the future looks bright for the base five years after losing its tanker mission.
"To the extent that we can continue to bring in missions that are the missions of the future, it makes all the difference in the world," he said.
As the profile of the base's unmanned aircraft program grows, Hoeven said when it comes time to realign the bases again--potentially in 2017--Grand Forks would be in a position to make another run at a refueling tanker mission.
Shovels hitting the dirt later this week at Northrop Grumman's groundbreaking ceremony is a sound local officials hope will ring in a period of job growth and development for the area.
The aerospace and technology company will be the first tenant to begin construction at Grand Sky, a 217-acre business park situated on Grand Forks Air Force Base that focuses on unmanned aircraft systems and related services.
It should be noted that in-flight refueling of a drone was first successfully accomplished within the past year (to the best of my knowledge).
Meanwhile, back in the Bakken, The McKenzie Farmer is reporting continued growth in Watford City:
Watford City boundaries embraced 882 acres pre-oil boom. Since 2010, annexations and expansions have increased that size to encompass an acreage total of 5,459 acres.
And over 20 developments have gone through and completed the entire planning and zoning process, representing more than 2,800 acres.
“We’re coming on more stable times,” stated Gene Veeder, executive director for the McKenzie County Job Development Authority. “And our trend in growth is still upward here. Our numbers are still real strong here. People are waiting to see those numbers change, and they haven’t.” While the oil industry remains strong, Watford City is still not seeing the price of rental housing fall to the levels being seen elsewhere in the oil patch.
“It’s pretty evident that looking at all of the oil-producing counties, McKenzie County doubles the closest county in terms of gross oil production,” states Veeder. “Oil production will be quite strong in the county, even at $20 to $30 a barrel. These numbers will be above 350,000 barrels of oil a day. You’ll see some depletion, but still pretty strong.”
While there is concern from many that anticipated low oil prices will hurt drilling activity, in western North Dakota, Veeder says that with McKenzie County’s low breakeven point for well profitability, drilling activity has and will remain strong in the county.
BREAK-EVEN POINT: The breakeven point for McKenzie County wells is $27 a barrel and with oil prices in the low to mid-$40s a barrel, there is still room for profits. Which is why McKenzie County remains the epicenter for new drilling activity in the state.
RIG COUNT: As of Sept. 9, 2015, McKenzie County had 25 of the state’s active rigs, followed by Williams County at 15, Mountrail County at 14, and Dunn County at 13.
“Oil production numbers are steady in our county,” says Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford. “Only until prices go up again, then it will boom again. And the best producing wells are in our area.”
According to Lynn Helms, North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources director, he expects to see 25 rigs drilling at the $20 to $30 a barrel level with 19 frac crews working in McKenzie County in 2015. If that $20 to $30 level stays consistent over the next two years, that would still leave McKenzie County with 16 rigs in 2016 and 19 rigs in 2017. In 2015, McKenzie County would have 3,248 active wells, 3,575 in 2016, and 4,031 in 2017.
The interesting thing to note is that at the $20 to $30 level, both Mountrail and Williams counties would be hit pretty hard in 2016 and 2017.From The Williston Wire:
Mountrail County would have no rigs in 2016, all the way down from 14 in 2015, and Williams County would also have zero rigs in 2016, down from 15 in 2015. That means neither county would have frac crews working, which would hurt the oil and gas industry tremendously in those counties.
“If we stay at the $20 to $30 a barrel level, it’s not going to be easy,” said Veeder. “But it’ll be much easier for us to get through this slowdown than other counties. The big number is the gross production number for McKenzie County. No matter what level we are at, whether it’s $20 to $30, $30 to $40, or $40 to $50, McKenzie County will be producting 400,000 barrels of oil a day, which is almost double any other county.”
The 5th Annual Bakken Oil Product and Service Show drew larger than expected crowds of people. Craig Willcox was one of them. Willcox works out of New Mexico as a technical specialist for the John Crane Company, which has a presence in several tight oil plays across the country. He has been spending the most time here in the Bakken of late. "It's slowed down out there dramatically," Willcox said. "And the Bakken has, too, but it's still busier than most other places."
When it was first announced I was disappointed that Birdman beat out The Grand Budapest Hotel for best picture and best director Oscars and other awards, but after additional viewings, without question, Birdman was the right choice. I've watched it several times in the past week and see something new each time I watch.
The director of Birdman has another film coming out at the end of the year (2015) which is a bit closer to the Dakotas. From wiki:
The Revenant is an upcoming American biographical western thriller film directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu.
The screenplay by Mark L. Smith and Iñárritu is based in part on Michael Punke's 2003 novel of the same name. It is inspired by the life of frontiersman Hugh Glass. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, and Will Poulter.Also from wiki:
An explorer of the watershed of the Upper Missouri River in present-day North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, Glass is best known as a frontier folk hero for his legendary cross-country trek after being mauled by a grizzly bear.The trailers for The Revenant on YouTube do not hold my interest. It will be interesting what the critics and the movie-going public think of this movie.
I assume everyone knows the definition of a "revenant." I did not.
While buying my 59-cent donut from the grocery store next door this morning, standing in line, I saw on the front cover of some glossy that Kaley's marriage with Ryan is over. Lasted how long? Who wudda guessed? Lasted much longer than I thought it would. The best known TV actress (?) right now marrying a jock ranked #64th in his sport?
Not my favorite cover, by a long shot, but it's hard not to like Del Shannon.