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Governor urges oil company to preserve ‘viewscape’ of park

BISMARCK - Gov. Jack Dalrymple urged the oil company developing a massive drilling unit to preserve Little Missouri State Park as the company continues working in the area.

BISMARCK – Gov. Jack Dalrymple urged the oil company developing a massive drilling unit to preserve Little Missouri State Park as the company continues working in the area.

Dalrymple’s comments came Tuesday after the Industrial Commission received an update on the Corral Creek-Bakken Unit, a 30,000-acre oil development near Killdeer that includes the state park.

“I hope that we do let people know out there, including ConocoPhillips, that we would like to continue to stay back from the Little Missouri as much as possible and continue to preserve the viewscape as much as possible,” Dalrymple said. ”I think they know that. But let’s keep reminding them that remains the same.”

Director of Mineral Resources Lynn Helms said ConocoPhillips met or exceeded all of the promises or requirements to develop the unit, which the Industrial Commission approved about four years ago. Helms said the company moved some wells away from the river valley at its own expense to drill in a safer, better location.

When the unit was proposed, ConocoPhillips planned to drill 81 wells in addition to 12 wells that were already drilled in the unit. The timeline was anticipated to be 3½ years.

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But the company added more wells targeting the Three Forks formation, and now expects to continue drilling until at least 2019, a ConocoPhillips representative told the Oil and Gas Division in January.

As of last month, the unit had 120 producing wells, 14 wells that were drilled or partially drilled and ConocoPhillips planned to add 60 more.

The Industrial Commission did not make any changes to the unit development.

Dalrymple also urged the Oil and Gas Division to address concerns about royalty statements for mineral owners in the unit being difficult to understand.

Under a unitization agreement, dozens of royalty owners share the revenue of the whole area according to a formula rather than having individual leases for their wells.

Royalty owner David Schwalbe has said the way the mineral owners are compensated is so complex that they don’t know if they’re being treated fairly.

“In this case, where we decided a mega-unit was a good idea, let’s just be sure that the acreage is calculated exactly right,” Dalrymple said. “Not only should it be correct, but it should be, I think, understandable to people.”

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