In this week's news, protests at the Dakota Access Pipeline project site in North Dakota turned violent over the weekend; the Sandpiper pipeline project is now on hold until drilling picks up in North Dakota; the rig count increased by eight last week; and two workers died in a drilling rig accident in Texas
A protest of a four-state, $3.8 billion oil pipeline turned violent Sept. 3 after tribal officials say construction crews destroyed American Indian burial and cultural sites on private land in southern North Dakota.
Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey told CBS News that four private security guards and two guard dogs were injured after several hundred protesters confronted construction crews at the site just outside the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
Protesters reported that security dogs bit six people, including a young child. At least 30 people were pepper-sprayed, tribe spokesman Steve Sitting Bear says. Preskey said law enforcement authorities had no reports of protesters being injured.
Two Die in West Texas Drilling Accident
Authorities say two workers have died following a drilling rig accident in West Texas, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Yoakum County Sheriff Donald Corzine said Sept. 2 that two men were at a Norton Energy Drilling site near Denver City on Wednesday when there was some type of mechanical accident. The sheriff had no additional details on what went wrong.
One worker died at the scene and the other received medical attention, but later died.
Rig Count Increases by Eight
The number of rigs searching for oil and natural gas increased by eight last week to 497, according to oilfield services company Baker Hughes in data released Sept. 2.
The Houston-based company says 407 rigs were searching for oil and 88 were seeking natural gas. Two were listed as miscellaneous. Last year 864 rigs were active.
Among the major oil-producing states, Wyoming, Texas and Oklahoma all saw an increase of four rigs, while Pennsylvania went up by two rigs and West Virginia and North Dakota went up by one each.
Louisiana lost seven rigs and Colorado was down by one.
Sandpiper Pipeline Project on Hold
An affiliate of Enbridge Energy Partners has announced plans to withdraw regulatory applications associated with the Sandpiper project. The applications are pending with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
Enbridge concluded that the project should be put on hold until such a time as crude oil production in North Dakota recovers in order to support the development of new pipeline capacity.
The company believes that new pipeline capacity will not be needed until beyond its five-year planning horizon.