The following is from the May issue of the magazine. We put together a question and answer piece with the team from the North Dakota Petroleum Council on the eve of the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference to give everyone headed to Bismarck next week a bit more context on the show. See you there.
1. What is the history of the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference?
The Williston Basin Petroleum Conference was started in 1992 by the Government of Saskatchewan, North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources and the North Dakota Petroleum Council. The conference had the same goal that it has today: to provide an opportunity for local, national, and international industry to gather and exchange new ideas, concepts, and technology to better serve the energy demands of our citizens. The conference alternates locations each year between Saskatchewan and North Dakota.
The conference has grown substantially over the past 10 years as the Bakken and Three Forks located within the Williston Basin have become recognized as a world-class resource. When the conference was held in Bismarck in 2012, it went down in history as the largest event to be hosted in the Bismarck-Mandan region, with 4,100 registrants from 47 states, seven provinces and nine countries. This year, we anticipate the conference to be even bigger.
2. What does the WBPC mean to the broader oil and gas industry, and on a more localized level, North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan?
Technology is what has unlocked the Bakken and Three Forks formations, leading the way for an energy renaissance not only in North Dakota, but in tight oil plays throughout the United States. Since 2003, when the Bakken shale play initially began in eastern Montana and when the Bakken took off in North Dakota in 2006, all eyes have been on the Williston Basin to see how we are advancing technologies and efficiencies and handling impacts. North Dakota is the model of a modern, efficient, technology-driven oilfield that has changed the way we develop our energy resources in our nation. In this way, the WBPC helps highlight the Williston Basin, as well as North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan and Manitoba as national and world leaders in safe, secure and stable energy production.
3. How will the 2014 event differ from the previous year?
This year’s conference will be the biggest yet, featuring more than 500 exhibit booths in the Bismarck Civic Center’s newly expanded exhibition hall. We have a fantastic line-up of speakers, including renowned political commentator Sean Hannity and CEOs of five major companies active in the Bakken, including Harold Hamm of Continental Resources, Tommy Nusz of Oasis Petroleum, Matt Rose of BNSF Railways, Lee Tillman of Marathon Oil and Jim Volker of Whiting Petroleum. In addition, more than 70 other speakers will address the latest technologies, efficiencies and impacts in the Williston Basin.
New to this year will also be the Public Education Sessions. In 2012, members of the general public were very interested in the WBPC and learning more about the industry, so we decided to host two free educational session so they can learn more about oil and gas development, how it’s done in North Dakota, and how it impacts their daily lives. For the second time, we will also hold a seminar for area fourth graders. The program, Oil Can Power Kids’ Futures, will include interactive lessons about the oil and gas industry and a tour of the outdoor exhibits, which will include a pumping unit and a workover rig.
4. As the industry progresses, so do the topics and main discussions. During the 2014 WBPC, what will be the most important topics?
Only six to eight barrels of every 100 barrels of oil that are in the Bakken are being recovered using current technology, so a hot topic continues to be optimization and recovering more of the resource in the Bakken and Three Forks Formations. Pipeline and rail infrastructure also continue to be important topics, and the study on Bakken crude qualities will also be of great interest to many attendees.
And finally, many are interested in what the future has in store for the Bakken and will be paying close attention to our CEOs.
5. Why has the WBPC undergone such tremendous growth?
The Bakken has become known across the nation and around the world as a world-class resource. Many of those operating here are pioneers of a new era for oil and gas development, and other states and nations with potential for developing shale resources look to North Dakota as an example. The WBPC highlights much of what is happening in the Bakken, which makes it a great event for investors, entrepreneurs, government leaders and others who are looking to capitalize on the opportunities available here or in other plays throughout the world.
6. How does the WBPC help the North Dakota Petroleum Council achieve any of its goals?
The WBPC continues to be one of the premier conferences on oil and gas development for the Williston Basin, and more specifically, the Bakken. With more than 500 exhibit booths and a slate of well-known and knowledgeable speakers, the conference provides tremendous value to our members in terms of education and networking. The conference also helps the NDPC learn more about the industry and our members so we can continue to work with them and maintain a sound regulatory environment for the industry.
7. The event brings together an incredible range of exhibitors and attendees. What do you hope the exhibitors and the attendees take away from this year’s show?
We hope our exhibitors and attendees can walk away with a better understanding of the latest advancements in oil recovery in the Bakken and the challenges faced. Many of the attendees and exhibitors are entrepreneurs and businesses who are looking to capitalize on the many opportunities we have available, and we look forward to seeing them in two years presenting on or exhibiting their own technologies and solutions to make the Bakken even more efficient and sustainable in the future.
8. For the NDPC specifically, what will the 2014 message to the audience be?
The Williston Basin continues to be a huge economic engine for our state and nation. Never before has North Dakota played such an integral role in our nation’s energy security and energy recovery. The world’s eyes are on us, and we must continue to develop our energy resources responsibly while minimizing impacts to our lands and environment.
9. The 2014 WBPC agenda includes several big name speakers. What are the must-attend sessions and why? The event will also offer some impressive exhibits. What do we need to check out?
The WBPC is designed to have something for everyone, from the engineers and geologists to investors to government affairs representatives, so it’s difficult to single out any session; there truly is something for everyone. Sean Hannity will no doubt be a huge draw, and the fact that he is coming to the conference speaks to the importance of the Bakken in terms of domestic energy production, economic impacts and job creation, which has put the Williston Basin in the national and international spotlight.
The CEOs will also attract a large audience. They are, after all, the leaders who will help determine the future of energy development in North Dakota. Many are interested in gaining insight on what these leaders and their respective companies have in store in the coming years.
10. The 2014 WBPC will be the best ever in the history of the event. What will it take to make the next North Dakota event even better?
The conference will move to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, next year, and the Government of Saskatchewan Ministry of the Economy always does a fantastic job in organizing that conference. The NDPC will host the event again in 2016.
As the Bakken continues to mature, 2016 will bring new challenges and new ideas to the table. Although we have not yet selected the venue for 2016, we are confident the success of the WBPC has resulted in a creation of a “must not miss” event that will continue to draw large audiences as the intrigue and opportunities in the Williston Basin evolve. Thank you, Bismarck, for doing such a fantastic job of hosting the 2014 WBPC.