In this week's news, a study from NOAA shows the Bakken isn't leaking as much methane as thought, oilsands producers are helping its employees who have been affected by the wildfires, crew camps file suit against Williston, and the rig count continues to drop

A new study says the oil-producing region of North Dakota and Montana leaks 275,000 tons of methane annually, an amount that’s less than previously reported.

The study was completed by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder. Co-authors include scientists from NOAA, the University of Michigan, Stanford University and the University of California.

The study, released May 11, was based on air samples National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration airplanes took from over the Bakken region in May 2014. Researchers say it’s the first field study of methane emissions from the Bakken Shale formation. The amount of methane leaking is similar to the emission rate from the oil-rich Denver-Julesburg Basin in Colorado.

Related: Blog: Gas and Oil Fuel North Dakota’s Rise

Oilsands Producers Helping Wildfire Victims

Oilsands producers are helping their Fort McMurray employees forced from their homes by the wildfire two weeks ago. Many companies are giving employees access to an array of emergency financial support, including loans, per diems and, in some cases, sizable lump-sum payments.

According to The Globe & Mail, ConocoPhillips Canada is giving affected workers $5,000 each for emergency housing and food, plus access to a $10,000 interest-free loan. Royal Dutch Shell is giving its Fort McMurray oilsands employs a $6,000 lump-sum payment.

Related: Faces of the Oilfield: Kevin Karella

Other oilsands producers are doing the same, as is the government. All adult evacuees driven out are eligible to receive $600 in emergency funds, plus $300 for each dependent, from the Canadian Red Cross. The Alberta government is also distributing debit cards worth $1,250 for eligible adults and $500 for children.

Crew Camp Owners File Suit Against Williston

Two crew camp owners have filed suit against the City of Williston, North Dakota, after the city commission gave final approval to no longer allow them in the city in March.

Related: Blog: R&B Song Pays Tribute to Oilsands Workers

Target Logistics and Lodging Solutions filed suit on April 6. A hearing between the parties is set for May 31.

In a 3-2 vote in March, the city approved ordinance 1026, which will close crew camps that fall within city limits and in a 1-mile radius around the city. The ordinance will go into effect on July 1, according to an article in the Williston Herald.

Target Logistics and Lodging Solutions argue that they had filed extensions for their existing workforce housing permits in July and September of last year, which were acknowledged but disregarded, according to Northwest Judicial District court documents. They argue that the request for a two-year permit extension was not given a timely hearing.

Rig Count Drops by Nine

The number of rigs seeking oil and natural gas in the U.S. dropped by nine last week to 406, according to data released by oilfield services company Baker Hughes on May 13.

The Houston-based company says 328 rigs were exploring for oil and 86 for natural gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, 888 rigs were active.

Texas declined by seven rigs, while Louisiana was down three and North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming each fell by one. New Mexico gained two rigs and California was up one.

Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia were all unchanged.

Related Stories