There were roughly 70 of us sitting in the parking lot of Whiting’s Watford City, North Dakota-office last night, but it felt like the entire state was there. Many of those in attendance were there as part of a state legislative tour organized by the Watford City Chamber of Commerce. The reason for Watford City was simple: highlight the incredible activity, constraints, success and plans associated with the current and future state of Watford City.
Following a bus tour of a drilling rig and fracking site—and a long wait in traffic on U.S. Highway 23 east of the town—the tour bus arrived and dropped everyone off at Whiting’s location as the final leg of an all-day trip. We sat under a large tent, assigned to numbered round tables. Each table included industry representatives from the Bakken, the state legislators and young professionals who’ve started careers in the Bakken’s unofficial oil production capital.
Whiting’s facility sits at the top of a ridge, overlooking a large swath of the town. It was hard to tell where the limits of the city ended and the open fields of wheat and oil pads began from that vantage point, a fact that many in attendance understood as a major reason for the gathering’s location. The view was picture worthy, the air was calm and cool as if fall was moving in. A photographer would have been jealous of the sunset behind our tent. Darick Franzen, the president of the chamber, joked with everyone there that he was responsible for the weather. In reality, the organizers of the event had hoped for worse. They had hoped that those in attendance would see some of the less desirable conditions often present there involving dust, wind and mud. But, after someone made that point, many responded that after waiting in a traffic jam outside of Watford City on their way to Whiting, “they had seen enough.”
The event lasted more than an hour and was highlighted from developers, city leaders and county officials explaining their plan to keep the city growing. I can’t describe everything that happened there in this short blog update. Not because I don’t want too, but because I’m not sure this website will allow me to post a 10,000 word blog. The story from that gathering is long. And, in this case, long equals important. What happens following that gathering will impact the ability of that city’s growth, and the industry’s that depend on the city, for years to come. My goal is to include the story on the gathering in our October issue, but I can’t honestly say I’ll have truly conquered and condensed everything from that night into a print piece by then.