A million thanks: Oil industry celebrates million-barrel milestone for North Dakota
Oil industry says thanks to North Dakota, celebrates million-barrel milestone
TIOGA — The oil industry said “thanks a million” Wednesday to North Dakota.
More than 2,000 people gathered in Tioga to celebrate the state’s recent oil milestone of hitting 1 million barrels a day, not far from where the state produced its first barrel.
The One Million Barrels — One Million Thanks celebration by the North Dakota Petroleum Council featured a free Southern barbecue, an air show by the Texas Flying Legends and historical oil exhibits.
Petroleum Council President Ron Ness said they wanted to hold the celebration where the state’s oil legacy began in 1951 with the first discovery well south of Tioga, the Clarence Iverson No. 1.
“There’s really no place other than Tioga,” Ness said. “This is where it all started.”
Oilfield geologist Kathy Neset, who hosted the party at Neset Consulting Service, highlighted a statement that was read in 1953 at the dedication for the Clarence Iverson well.
“The Williston Basin Discovery Clarence Iverson No. 1 opened a new era for North Dakota and reaffirmed the confidence of her people in the opportunities and future of this great state,” reads a historical marker near the site of the first well.
“Nothing could be more truer today than those words that were posted back in the 1950s,” Neset said. “We do have tremendous opportunities and we are affirming our faith in this state.”
Family members of Clarence Iverson attended the celebration, and some participated in a tour of the well site.
“It’s outstanding for the state,” Jim Iverson, the oldest son and one of five children, said of the million-barrel milestone.
Even though the Iverson family earned royalties from the oil development, they continued to work throughout their lives. Jim sold his business, the Super Valu in New Town, at age 81, and his brother Clifford, 82, of Tioga, continued farming until a few years ago.
“They didn’t depend on the oil. They all had their jobs and business interests,” said Deanie Iverson, Jim’s wife. “The oil was just a little bonus.”
Lorin Bakken of Tioga, the only known living descendent of the H.O. Bakken family, the well that gave the prolific Bakken formation its name, also was recognized at the celebration.
“It’s a great privilege for my family,” said Bakken, son of Henry O. Bakken and nephew of Harry O. Bakken.
By hosting the celebration, the industry wanted to thank the public for its patience and support, Neset said.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple told attendees that state leaders recognize the oil-producing communities have needs for roads, day care, law enforcement and other infrastructure. He said he’s confident state legislators will continue addressing those challenges when they convene in January.
“You have tremendous needs around here,” Dalrymple said. “Your state is responding to that.”
Ruth Hoover of Stanley, one of the people attending the celebration, said the oil activity has brought a lot of truck traffic where she lives, which is within a mile of six oil wells. But her community now has new businesses and the country is growing less dependent on foreign oil, Hoover said.
“As I see it, there’s more good than bad that’s come from it,” Hoover said.
Laura Rendahl traveled from her home south of Rugby to attend the celebration. She is a native of Watford City and grew up with the state’s first oil boom. Rendahl said it’s overwhelming to think about how big the oil industry has become with the recent 1 million-barrel-a-day milestone.
“I don’t think you can comprehend 1 million of anything,” Rendahl said.