Dependent on federal government labeling laws, business for brewers in Montana is dead in the water waiting for government to resume business. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has stopped taking applications for new beer labels, and before local breweries can sell beer nationally they are required to have a federally approved label. Most impacted are those who are opening new breweries or initiating a new line. It’s an example of the risk involved in being dependent on government to conduct commerce.


North Dakota still retains a “blue law” that prohibits many businesses from opening on Sundays before noon. “Blue laws” used to be quite common throughout the country as a means to coerce church attendance or recognition of the Sabbath. The ND State Legislature is debating the issue once again, with the North Dakota Retail Association and the Greater North Dakota Chamber urging its elimination.


In Bozeman the local food and retail union is trying to get the City of Bozeman to protect their jobs from competition. The United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 4, filed suit in Gallatin County District Court against the city. They are claiming the city should have used city codes to deny permission for the private business to operate.


The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has given final approval of the environmental impact statement on a 3,500-gas well project proposed by Jonah Energy in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Jonah’s Normally Pressured Lance Project would generate 950 jobs and produce $17.85 billion in total revenues, with federal royalties totaling $2.2 billion over a ten-year period. The proposed well program covers 140,859 acres in Converse County, and would include 205 miles of new pipelines and roads. (From Oil Patch Hotline)


Yellowstone National Park officials announced that they will use visitor fees to pay employees to clean bathrooms and pick up trash, as the government shutdown continues.


Miles City Fire and Rescue (MCFR) crews will no longer have to travel across the state to access specialized fire and rescue training opportunities, thanks to a new Fire Training Center. The training facility will allow MCFR crews to simulate live fires, helping improve firefighting skills and the treatment of burn victims, and is expected to draw crews from across Eastern Montana.


While North Dakota’s economy saw an 18 percent increase in taxable sales and purchases in the third quarter of 2018, the state’s booming oil patch region including McKenzie County, continued to drive much of the increase. McKenzie County and Watford City saw taxable sales and purchases increase by 51.32 and 48.97 percent, respectively, in the third quarter of 2018 compared to the same three-month period in 2017. Their taxable sales and purchases jumped nearly $30 million in the third quarter rising from $57,671,428 in 2017 to $87,268,670 in 2018. And in the third quarter of 2018, Watford City’s taxable sales and purchases skyrocketed to $73,672,540, a $24.2 million increase from the three month period of July, August and September of 2017.


The long-established business of Heebs Grocery Store will reopen in Bozeman under new ownership and in a new location. After more than three years of planning, Heebs Grocery is slated to open at 200 Highland Blvd., under the name Heebs Fresh Market. It will be twice its former size with more offerings.


Fossil Hill Resources of Sidney dominated the high bidding on three Roosevelt County tracts, as the Montana state oil and gas lease sale, held Dec. 4, brought in $485,496 in bonuses, with bids averaging $53.81 an acre. Leases on 9,023 acres in seven counties were auctioned off by the MT Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation.  Fossil Hill’s highest bid was $550/acre for a total of $352,000 for 640 acres.The only other tract of 149 acres was picked up by Sunshine Pacific Corp., with a high bid of $120/acre tract along the Missouri River. Minimum low bidding of $1.50 was prevalent for many tracts, with Primary Fuels LLC of Tulsa picking all 16 tracts in Dawson County. It came in with a high bid of $30/acre for 80 acres along the Yellowstone River. Primary also paid $15/acre for two tracts. In Sheridan County, the only tract was picked by Mitch Palmer of Gargel, TX, who paid $15/acre for seven acres. In Toole County, Petro-Sentinel LLC of Littleton, CO came in with highest bid of $37/acre for 80 acres. In the same county, Farleigh Oil Properties of Casper was high bidder at $30/acre for 80 acres and also paid $26/acre for 130 acres.


Minor modifications of requirements to disclose the composition of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing were approved by the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation during a meeting early in October. Operators will be required to justify trade secret information for chemicals, in cases where they do not list proprietary ingredients.


Stepped-up North Dakota crude oil production—which is approaching 1.3 million BOPD, and could reach 1.5 million BOPD by the end of the year—is putting pressure on Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline to expand its capacity.  Executives say they want to increase capacity by another 100,000 BOPD. Capacity could be increased by another 100,000 BOPD over the 500,000 BOPD moving on the 1,172-mile pipeline now.


Kelcy Warren, CEO of Dakota Access Partners  hopes to announce soon a proposed expansion exceeding 570,000 BOPD. In the first quarter, Dakota Access was moving 400,000 BOPD, and a majority of producers in the Williston Basin were opting in as the carrier for Bakken crude oil. About 72% of the state’s crude oil is moving out on three pipeline systems and 17% is going out by rail tanker cars, according to the ND Pipeline Authority.


Bozeman is in the process of developing a growth plan for its downtown area. The plan focuses on infrastructure, housing and green spaces.


MT Bare Cave, owned by Marci Cundiff,  opened its doors Dec. 15 in Sidney, selling unique items at a reasonable cost.


The ND Industrial Commission gave the okay in August for two unusual drilling units that will cross the North Dakota-Montana state line and will cover 1,021 acres. Denbury Resources LLC will drill the two wells in Fallon County, and extract oil from the horizontal wells in Bowman County. The company anticipates an ultimate production (EUR) of 284,000 barrels of crude oil with drilling costs pegged at $3.1 million for each well.