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What is your favorite part about the Boys and Girls Club afterschool program?

“My favorite part is that we get to go here after schoool and it gives us something to do when our parents are at work.”

Colton Johns, third grade

“I like reading.”

Kenzley Van Every, second grade

“We get to play fun games.”

Gabriella Munoz, kindergarten

“It’s an easy time to do homework.”

Hayden Miller, fifth grade

“Playing soccer.”

Isaac Perez, first grade

Mayor proclaims Sept. 8-14 as National Suicide Prevention Week in Sidney

During the Sidney City Council regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3, Mayor Rick Norby read a proclamation in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Week.

“This Proclamation recognizes suicide as a national and statewide public health problem, suicide prevention as a national and statewide responsibility, and designates September 8 through September 14 as ‘National Suicide Prevention Week’ in Sidney. This week overlaps World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th, recognized internationally and supported by the World Health Organization.”

Suicide facts in Norby’s proclamation included:

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death among individuals between ages 15 to 34.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 47,000 people die by suicide in the United States each year.

Suicide is the only leading cause of death in the United States that has increased every year for the past decade.

It is estimated in 2017 (the last year national data was available), there were over 1.4 million suicide attempts.

In 2018, suicide was the sixth leading cause of death in Montana.

In 2018, 270 people died by suicide in Montana.

Over 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable mental health condition, although often that condition is not recognized or treated.

In other news

Bill Vander Weele, executive director of Sidney Chamber, was appointed to a three-year term on the police commission.

Vander Weele asked city council to consider giving Chamber Bucks as Christmas bonuses this year to keep dollars at local stores. Vander Weele said the school district has given Chamber Bucks in lieu of traditional Christmas bonuses for a few years.

City council approved Vander Weele’s request for the Parade of Lights to be held Friday, Nov. 29, at 6:30 p.m. Chief of Police Frank DiFonzo requested Vander Weele ask the last four to five floats to refrain from throwing candy due to street clean up.

Draw number 12 for the Waste Water Treatment Project Phase 3 was approved in the amount of $549,963.47.

DiFonzo asked for two road signs near school zones, warning drivers of upcoming school zones. City council approved the request.

Photo by Amy Efta 

Training complete

Sidney Police Department Officer Austin Papka recently completed his standard 480 hours (12 weeks) of training at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy in Helena.

Continental Oil is pushing out boundaries of what is profitable in the Bakken

BILLINGS, Mont. — Americans haven’t talked about their country as the greatest oil country in the world, but they need to, Continental Oil’s Blu Hulsey told a crowd of oil and gas industry professionals, who gathered in Billings, Montana on Wednesday, Aug. 28, for the annual MPA Conference.

Hulsey is Continental Oil’s senior vice president for HSE and Government and Regulatory Affairs.

Hulsey doubled down on Continental Oil’s recent estimates that there are actually 30 to 40 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Bakken. That’s four to five times larger than the government’s most recent estimates.

“We think the total Bakken is a huge field as far as the world is concerned,” Hulsey said.

Meanwhile, Hulsey said recovery rates in shale plays continue to grow. They used to be around 3 percent but are now more like 20 percent.

“There’s still oil you’re leaving in the ground,” Hulsey said. “But your recovery factor is that much more.”

America’s shale revolution, in which the Bakken is a big player, is changing the whole dynamic of where the United States is as a country.

“We have this amazing resource, but we don’t talk about it,” he said. “We don’t talk about ourselves as the greatest oil country in the world, and we need to.”

Continental is continuing to run six rigs in the Bakken, and represents 14 percent of its overall production.

“We are consistent with those rigs, and we have about four to five stimulation crews,” Hulsey said. “That is where our sweet spot is.”

Hulsey showed graphs of type curves for well production that show how return on investment is both coming in sooner and getting larger.

“That gets us to a reasonable rate of return at lower costs,” Hulsey said.

That’s not thanks to 2015 technology, though, Hulsey added.

“If we were using 2015 technology, we wouldn’t be doing those (wells),” he said. “The stimulation has changed, the speed has changed.”

And technology is continuing to advance.

“We are still getting better with our units and development,” he added. “Three of our top 10 units came in 2019.”

In the last three years, the company had a little more than 150 wells that hit the 100,000 barrel mark in the first 90 days of operation.

“Really, that is the consistent rate you are producing,” he said. “You have consistent rock throughout the play, even in Richland County.”

With the latter comment, Hulsey was referring in particular to a step-out area in Richland County.

Hulsey showed a slide with three step-outs including the one in Richland County that he said the company believes will continue to be economically viable long-term.

“We will continue to look at Richland County for that type of development,” he said.

Wells in the three step-outs shown in the slide are outperforming legacy wells, some by 100 percent, or more Hulsey said.

“We are looking at sand, the length of perforations and all of those things that allow us to really bring that production forward and make it a much more valuable play,” he said.

Hulsey said the company is also working out a new spacing unit for Richland County. That is still underway.

The new approach will minimize surface impacts and reduce the costs of necessary surface equipment, Hulsey said.

“We appreciate the Conservation Commission and everyone who worked with us on this, and I think that is what is going to continue the great things that are going on in Richland County,” Hulsey said.

The Long Creek unit in Williams County, meanwhile, will have almost $450 million invested in what will be a 10-section unit.

The first production is expected from it in 2020.

“We’ll be piping our oil and gas — it is just north of the river – so it is an environmentally sensitive area that we are paying attention to,” he said. “It is an absolute oil machine out there, and it will be just fantastic to see that when it is fully developed.”

There’s been a lot of buzz in the oilfield world about the Permian, Hulsey said, but the Bakken has good talking points, too.

“You have to have something to tell your Texas friends,” he joked, “because they will not stop talking about Texas.”

Among the talking points he suggested is the large amount of water the Permian gets with its oil.

“We have a high oil cut and low water,” Hulsey said. “The Permian is pushing out a lot of water, and they’re having to figure out what to do with it. We don’t have that here, and it helps with the cost of production here.”

Another Bakken talking point, Hulsey suggested, is the sheer size of the Bakken.

On a power point, Hulsey showed the Bakken is geographically as large an area as both the Delaware and the Permian Basins side by side.

Hulsey expressed confidence that with the current administration more infrastructure can quickly be laid that will help power up the future of the industry.

“We need to do it now,” he said. “We have an administration that is not stopping development in this country. We need to talk about long-term development and what we will be doing in these areas.”

The oil industry has faced some challenges in the marketplace. But the industry has responded by getting better.

“It is the American ingenuity in this room,” he said. “And it is truly making a difference with what has happened in America. We are just going to continue to get better.”

5 things to know

1On Tuesday, Sept. 10, Melissa Jeel-Hartmen, psychic medium, will be providing private readings, 9 a.m. — Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. To book a private session, go to visibook.com/heartandsoulhealingarts.

2Toddler Tuesday is also Sept. 10, at MonDak Heritage Center, 10:30 a.m. Come in with your little ones and make art. Ages 2-6. Brief story time and then create beautiful artwork with your little one. Snacks are provided. To sign up, call (406) 433-3500.

3Northwest North Dakota Semi-Annual Job Fair will be in Williston on Wednesday, Sept. 11, Raymond Family Community Center, at 2 p.m.

4On Thursday, Sept. 12, Montana Repertory Theatre presents “Love that Dog,” MonDak Heritage Center, 7 p.m. Tickets are adult, $50; senior, $45; students, $35. For additional concert information contact Candy Markwald 406-488-4155, Jill Hill 406-489-4304, or Leann Pelvit at 433-3500.

5Friday, Sept. 13, will be Sidney Eagle Homecoming. Eagle Foundation will host a tailgate starting at 5:30 p.m. at the high school. Kickoff for the football game is at 7 p.m.

Showing off Sidney as a future convention destination

Getting the Montana Tavern Association (MTA) to eastern Montana was a labor of love for many Sidney residents, including Boyde and Hannah Frye, general managers at Meadowlark Public House.

“We went to the convention last year and thought it could be a good economical boost to get these people here and a good way to show off what we have going on in this side of the state,” Boyde said, who is also on the Sidney Chamber of Commerce board. “We talked to a lot of vendors that were there, a lot of brewers and distilleries, to try and get them interested in coming over here too.”

Part of Hannah and Boyde’s trip to the MTA convention in Missoula last year to study the layout and flow of the convention to see how it would work in Sidney. Boyde said they want to get a larger variety of western Montana products to the eastern side of the state. The Fryes also enjoy the opportunity to inspire other small towns.

“I love the convention. It’s just so much fun,” Hannah said. “We know this year is going to be a smaller turn out because they don’t do it in small towns. But its going to be a really good opportunity for us to show the other small towns we can all put on conventions.”

While the hot topic of the convention is legalized sports betting this year, pubs like the Meadowlark won’t be too involved in those conversations. Hannah said one thing they would like to know more about is the use of CBD oil in microbrews and how that works.

Along with the Fryes, another community member who played a big role in getting MTA to Sidney was the late Mike Severson, former owner of the Ranger Lounge.

“He always wanted it to come here and then he passed away before that,” Boyde said. “They really wanted to make an effort in his name to get over here. His son sat down with us with [MTA Executive Director Margaret Herriges] in meetings and really helped get it all started. His dad always went to all the conventions and really supported MTA a lot.”

The convention will hopefully be the start of more events being hosted in the area. Hannah said the Montana Young Professionals convention in Sidney in 2021 will help solidify Sidney’s reputation as a convention-friendly location.

“It’ll benefit the whole town, all the hotels,” Boyde added. “There will be people here shopping in our local boutiques and stores. And taverns will get a big boost too. The more events we can get to Sidney the better it’s going to be for our economy.”

MTA convention will be in Sidney Sept. 8-11 for the 64th annual convention and trade show.