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Editorial: More highs than lows at oil expo

People from around the world are beginning to understand that there is a lot of oil and a lot of people flowing in and around western North Dakota.

The number of zeros it takes to fulfill recent estimates can be difficult to comprehend -- 1,000,000,000, 1,000,000, 1,000,000 and 40,000 are a glimpse at the numbers that leaders put out there within the past few days: A population estimate of North Dakota hitting 1 million people, the prediction that North Dakota would hit nearly 1 million barrels of oil per day, along with the announcement that Dickinson may double in size to about 40,000 and an oil-recovery increase of 1 percent could mean a total of 2 billion to 4 billion more barrels from North Dakota.

Discussion of such increases created buzz at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, which brought in more than 4,000-oil interests from nearly every state and a number of countries. The event was Tuesday through Thursday and those who attended will say it was an upbeat gathering which provided a wealth of knowledge and thrilling projections.

Though companies know they are sitting on, and have ways to recover, oil and wealth unlike ever before, one presenter spoke of possible problems including drops in oil prices and changes in federal regulations that could lead to less oil retrieval.

It's important for people to discuss what could be.

Locally and nationally there are studies on the amounts of oil sitting under our feet, and how this is creating jobs and boosting the economy.

All the while, leaders scramble to take care of the flood of people and business already here and heading this way. Some are preparing for the best and keeping the worst in mind -- build crew camps instead of permanent homes just in case.

However, there needs to be much more preparation in case of the worst. Ask those who lived here in the 80s.

Talking to those removed from the situation, or to those who went through a drop before, can provide insight into the oil's potential. It can also open eyes to "what if."

Much research has been put into how much "could" be, but get numbers out there for "if" these numbers don't meet expectations.

North Dakota recently became No. 2 in the country for oil production and that is something to be proud of. Now attention is drawn toward what it will take this state to be No. 1.

Attention must also be directed toward North Dakota slipping out of No. 2.

Publisher Harvey Brock and Editor Jennifer McBride are on The Dickinson Press Editorial Board.