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Third Annual "Energizing North Dakota" Partnership Summit held May 10 in Grand Forks


The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) hosted the 3rd Annual Partnership Summit on May 10. The event served as a forum for partners from multiple energy industry sectors to discuss critical topics. North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness welcomed over 100 attendees, who represented public utilities, private industry, government entities, and energy research experts.

Keynote speaker Steven Winberg, U.S. Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, discussed the nation’s transition from an energy importer to a top producer, moving toward exporting. He highlighted North Dakota’s collaborations between universities, industry, and state and federal government as the example for the nation.



North Dakota Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford discussed energy’s vital role in the state’s economy and key state initiatives. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring discussed opportunities to capitalize on the state’s agriculture and energy synergies, and North Dakota Senator Rich Wardner provided updates on the Energy Development and Transmission Committee’s priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

Neset Consulting CEO and State Board of Higher Education member Kathleen Neset discussed ways to prepare future energy industry employees for their careers while they are students. A multidisciplinary discussion panel focused on carbon dioxide and its role as a bridge between different energy sectors; specifically, between Coal and Oil and Gas. EERC Vice President for Strategic Partnerships John Harju moderated the panel of experts who included Stacey Dahl, External Affairs and Communications Manager at Minnkota Power Cooperative; Robert Mau, President of Eagle Operating, Inc.; and Michael Nasi, partner with the Jackson Walker law firm.



Dr. Brian Kalk, EERC Director of Energy Systems Development, outlined progress made toward advancing the goals developed during the 2017 Partnership Summit for North Dakota’s energy future. These goals include doubling or tripling the current oil production in the state, eliminating pipeline leaks, increasing oil recovery rates in existing wells, maximizing the use of North Dakota natural gas and energy export opportunities, enhancing energy reliability, educating the world on energy and environmental topics, and making the best use of synergies between the agriculture and energy industries. Specific examples of progress made toward these goals in the last year are summarized in the EERC’s newest resource, “Energizing North Dakota’s Future: Advancing the Goals.”

“We have not only the opportunity but also the obligation to the citizens of North Dakota to change and prepare for the future,” says EERC CEO Tom Erickson. “Venues like this foster collaboration on those opportunities."

Click here to view event photos.

Industry responds to governor’s initiative to improve pipeline technology; Program funding approved by North Dakota Industrial Commission

Bismarck, N.D. – A research and development project focused on advancing new technologies to prevent and detect pipeline leaks is moving ahead after receiving approval and a $1.6 million grant from the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) this week. Leaders within the oil and gas industry in the state proposed the Intelligent Pipeline Integrity Program (iPIPE) in direct response to a challenge made by Governor Doug Burgum last year to eliminate pipeline leaks through innovation. The grant will be matched by private contributions made by industry partners in the program, for an overall cost of $3.7 million. 

“We’re excited to see the private sector step up and embrace the challenge to do more with emerging technologies to solve the problem of pipeline leaks or spills within the gathering system in our state,” said Governor Burgum, who chairs the NDIC. “The Intelligent Pipeline Integrity Program is a novel approach worthy of support from the Industrial Commission and our state leadership, and I eagerly anticipate the results of their research.”

“As industry leaders we feel that the iPIPE consortium can truly achieve our goal – to improve integrity and performance of our gathering system in the state,” said Brent Lohnes, general manager in North Dakota for Hess Corporation and iPIPE consortium partner. “With our core partners, this effort will be done in a way that embraces the best of new technologies, to both better detect releases and to prevent them from happening.”

The iPIPE consortium partners include Hess Corporation, Equinor (formerly Statoil), Goodnight Midstream, Oasis Midstream Partners, ONEOK, the Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) in Grand Forks, N.D. and several technology providers.

The goal of iPIPE is to develop and demonstrate cutting-edge technology that can prevent and/or detect gathering pipeline leaks in the state. iPIPE partners will do this through a process of testing and selecting emerging technologies, documenting demonstrations and results, and ultimately facilitating the adoption of the best, new technologies into North Dakota pipeline operations.

The $1.6 million from NDIC’s Oil and Gas Research Program, together with industry support of the project, will fund the planned three-and-a-half year program. The iPIPE consortium has proposed incremental funding of the project to allow for additional program partners and research as consortium membership and investment from oil and gas companies grows. Lohnes and other industry leaders say they hope iPIPE will serve as a nationwide model for responsible state involvement in infrastructure integrity research and development.

The NDIC consists of Burgum as chairman, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.