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Strong interest as Bakken tours begin

Tami Fohr Walsh of Florida, left, and Lynn Iaquinta of Oregon take pictures during the Bakken Field Tour Saturday near New Town.

WILLISTON -- Sylvan Prothero built a vacation around touring North Dakota's oil fields.

The Breckenridge, Minn., area farmer was among about 30 people to participate in the first Bakken Field Tour on Saturday.

Prothero said his daughter-in-law thought he was crazy for spending the $325 to go on the tour, but he had been reading about the oil boom and wanted to experience it.

"I just thought I'd like to go out there and see what it's like," Prothero said. "It is amazing."

The series of tours is designed to educate people about oil and gas development in northwest North Dakota, whether they're interested in doing business in the Bakken or just have sheer curiosity.

Saturday's group included real estate developers, private equity investors, representatives from a trucking company and others from around the state and around the country.

Representatives from Alderon Industries of Hawley, Minn., which manufacturers control panels and float switches, attended the tour to learn about opportunities they could pursue in the oil field.

"We didn't really understand the scope of what was going on," said Greg Simon, sales and marketing manager.

The guided tour, which left from Williston and went through Watford City, New Town, Stanley and Tioga, drove by drilling rigs, fracking equipment, gas processing plants, crude loading terminals and new housing developments. It also featured a tour of the Target Logistics crew camp near Tioga.

Participants attended an educational workshop Friday night to lay the foundation for what they saw Saturday.

Chuck Geisen, a real estate developer from Green Bay, Wis., attended the tour even though he's already been working in the Williston area with Landmark Real Estate & Development. Geisen said it expanded his focus and allowed him to network and make new connections.