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Hess Corp. announced that it is laying off about 300 employees this year, primarily in its corporate offices in New York and Houston, as part of cost-cutting measures. But even so, the company is increasing its North Dakota rig count from four to six next year and will announce future midstream capital spending plans for North Dakota later in the year. Company spokesman, Robert Young said, “Despite the restructuring, we see North Dakota as one of our company’s key growth engines.” The 13% cutback in its workforce, along with the sale of certain assets, is expected to drive down cash unit production costs by 30% to less than $10/BOE by 2020. (Report from Oil Patch Hotline)

 

XTO Energy Inc., a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, has added 20 jobs to its Williston Field Office. These moves came with the closure of their metro Denver office. The closure was part of a larger effort to move employees closer to the field. Williston’s newest residents are high level employees involved with XTO’s Bakken operations.

 

Carl Mattson, a member of the Hill-Liberty-Blaine County Farm Bureau, has been named Farm Service Agency Committee Chair in Montana. The appointees, announced by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, will serve as liaisons between USDA and the producers in each state across the nation by keeping them informed and hearing their appeals and complaints. Mattson has been active in the Hill-Liberty-Blaine County Farm Bureau, has served on the board of directors of the Montana Grain Growers Association and has been involved in several other agricultural organizations.

 

The City of Williston is working with a consulting firm to attract more airline carriers to Williston. According to Anthony Dudas, Williston Airport Director, Trillion Aviation will help the city set up meetings with carriers to help educate them about the demand for flights out of Williston. Dudas said Sloulin Field is in a difficult position because the largest jets it can accommodate carry 50 passengers, and more carriers are planning to use larger planes.

 

The Montana Chamber Foundation has rolled out a website for its Make Montana Home campaign. Working with Tadpull, a Bozeman based digital research and marketing firm, they have crafted a website to reach a young demographic about the benefits of working in Montana. This project is targeted toward telecommuters, Montana natives and folks who would love to bring their work to Montana. The website may be visited by going to www. Make Montana Home. org

 

The Gallatin Association of Realtors released its residential real estate statistics for December 2017 as well as the year’s fourth quarter. The number of new single-family listings increased 30.4 percent from 56 in December 2016 to 73 last month, while the number of closed sales rose slightly, going from 118 to 122, a 3.4 percent increase. The average number of days on market until sale was 91, up 21.3 percent from 75 in December 2016. The inventory of homes for sale decreased 11.8 percent, going from 424 to 374, while the month’s supply of inventory dropped 9.4 percent, from 3.2 to 2. 9. The average sales price jumped 55.3 between 2016 and 2017, going from $415,664 to $645,506. The number of new single-family listings increased 9.3 percent from 246 in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 269 in the final three months of 2017. Closed sales jumped 5.7 percent, from 368 to 389. The average number of days on market until sale was down 4.3 percent, dropping from 70 to 67. The inventory of homes for sale decreased 11.8 percent, going from 424 to 374, while supply of inventory dropped 9.4 percent, from 3.2 to 2.9. The average sales price increased 18 percent between the fourth quarter of 2016 and that of 2017, going from $444,874 to $524,995.

 

Klym Land Services LLC, of Cody, Wyoming, an energy and mineral resource firm, has launched a new Landman consulting practice. David Klym has extensive experience in the Rocky Mountain Region working directly with Landowners and industry Land Professionals to ensure sound stewardship of Land resources. “I have 38 years of experience working federal, state, tribal and free lands that have given me the skills to handle Land responsibilities to prepare a well for oil and gas drilling for any corporation or independent oil and gas company,” said Klym.

 

In ARCO v. Bidegaray, petitioner Atlantic Richfield Company (“ARCO”) petitioned the Montana Supreme Court seeking reversal of five district court orders.  The underlying action concerned a claim for restoration damages brought by property owners in and around the town of Opportunity, Montana.  As part of ARCO’s cleanup responsibility relating to the Anaconda Smelter, EPA required ARCO to remediate residential yards and wells within the Smelter Site harboring excessive levels of arsenic. The Property Owners sought the opinion of outside experts to determine what actions would be necessary to fully restore their properties The recommendations of the experts required restoration work in excess of what the EPA required of ARCO.  The Property Owners sued, seeking restoration damages.  ARCO conceded that the Property Owners could move forward on their first four claims, but contended that the claim for restoration damages was preempted by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980.  The Supreme Court agreed with the district court that the Property Owners’ claims for restoration damages was barred by CERCLA.

 

In Moreau v. Transportation Ins., Christita Moreau appealed a Workers’ Compensation Court order denying her motion for summary judgment and granting summary judgment to Transportation Insurance Company. Moreau’s husband Edwin worked at the W.R. Grace mine near Libby and later died from asbestos-related lung cancer. In 2010 Moreau, as personal representative of Edwin’s estate, filed a workers’ compensation claim for occupational disease benefits. Transportation Insurance Company denied liability for the claim. Edwin’s employer, W.R. Grace, established and funded the Libby Medical Plan to pay the medical expenses of its employees who were injured by exposure to asbestos. In 2013, Transportation accepted liability for the workers’ compensation claim and entered a settlement with Moreau.  Transportation agreed to reimburse Medicaid, other providers, and Moreau personally for medical expenses each had paid for Edwin’s care. The parties stipulated that Transportation paid all of Edwin’s medical bills or reimbursed the other persons or entities that had paid them.  Transportation did not reimburse the LMP for the $95,846 of Edwin’s medical bills it had previously paid because the LMP refused to accept it.  The WCC determined that all of Edwin’s medical care costs had been paid; that Edwin had no liability to any health care provider; and that he had no right to claim any further payment from Transportation.  The WCC determined that if the Estate were to receive the $95,000 from Transportation it would represent a double recovery because Edwin had already received the medical benefits themselves. The Court concluded that Moreau therefore lacked standing to proceed her petition.  The WCC therefore granted summary judgment to Transportation. Finding no reversible error in that WCC decision, the Montana Supreme Court affirmed.

 

The Williston Airport ended 2017 with a strong December but saw little change overall. The airport posted a 8.8% increase in passengers for December 2017 as compared to December 2016, said Williston Airport Director Anthony Dudas. Meanwhile,  year over year, Sloulin Field International Airport reported little change in total passengers. Statewide, North Dakota’s commercial service airports finished calendar year 2017 with a total of 1,030,639 enplanements, a slight decrease of 1.8% from 2016’s count of 1,049,418.

 

Oil production in North Dakota is steadily climbing. The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources reported 1.194 million barrels of oil were produced in the state in November. In October, the state produced 1.183 million barrels of oil. Gas production reached a new all-time high of 2.095 billion cubic feet a day in November. The state also had a new all-time high of 14,324 producing wells in November.

 

Montana State University has received favorable ratings from two major agencies on bonds it’s issuing to pay for the design and construction of a new 480-bed residence hall. Moody’s Investors Service assigned a high-quality Aa3 rating to MSU’s upcoming residence hall bonds and Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings assigned a favorable A-plus rating to MSU’s bonds. S&P cited the university’s solid management team, stable enrollment and student quality as part of its rationale. MSU is currently designing the new residence hall, which will be located along College Street, just west of Wally Byam Park and the 11th Avenue roundabout. Construction is expected to begin in May, with completion expected in mid-2020. No taxpayer dollars will be used to pay for the project. It will be paid for with student residence hall fees.

 

The Montana Public Service Commission has filed a complaint in Montana District Court to levy fines against ABACO Energy Services, LLC for repeated failure to comply with a December 2016 order directing the company to file rate information with the PSC. After finding that ABACO’s propane delivery system, which serves the Big Sky Ski Resort, met the legal definition of a “public utility” subject to regulation by the PSC the PSC directed ABACO to file information sufficient to meet the minimum rate case filing standards by April 28, 2017. Two days prior to the deadline ABACO filed a motion for extension of time to file the required information. The Commission approved the request giving ABACO until the end of Sept. 2017 to produce the information. On Oct. 2, 2017, two days after the deadline, ABACO requested an additional extension of time. The Commission again granted ABACO’s request, however, in the order approving the extension it cautioned that failure to adhere to the new Dec. 31 deadline would result in the immediate application of civil penalties.