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North Dakota oil production held steady in January despite harsh winter weather, producing an average of more than 1.17 million barrels per day.

A private, invitation-only discussion was held between Gov. Doug Burgum and dozens of stakeholders in the oil and gas industry as well as state officials Tuesday with the goal of working toward better prevention and reporting of oil and produced water spills.

Nearly 80 people attended the meeting at the Bismarck State College National Energy Center of Excellence, which was billed as a frank discussion between the state and industry.

Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki said the meeting is part of a several-month dialogue intended to come up with solutions on reducing spills and creating a more efficient spill-reporting process.

“He wanted it to be a frank and open discussion,” Nowatzki said of the reasoning for keeping the meeting closed.

Nowatzki said some industry officials in attendance at times spoke of proprietary information, also important to keep private.

Discussion centered on how to improve the process of building and monitoring pipelines to reduce the number of spills. Ways to better monitor them included increased use of aerial drones, Nowatzki said.

One initial conversation was about creating a state hotline for reporting spills of oil or fluid, similar to the North Dakota One Call system in which companies call before they dig in order to avoid damaging underground utilities.

What agencies would be taking the lead on this initiative or what the potential cost would be if enacted was unclear Tuesday.

Nowatzki said there will be smaller work groups formed to work on how to better improve pipeline safety.

“The goal is continuous improvement — not more regulations — as we seek to shrink the number and volume of spills that can be costly to the environment, landowners and operators,” Burgum said in a release issued following the meeting’s conclusion.

(Reach Nick Smith at 701-250-8255 or 701-223-8482 or at