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Oil industry on display on Alerus Center floor

Lou Holtz, left, poses for photos with members of the North Dakota Petroleum Council on Tuesday in Grand Forks. Holtz is scheduled to speak during the conference today.

GRAND FORKS -- Booths lined Grand Forks' Alerus Center arena floor Tuesday, with tables covered in pens, coffee mugs and hats marked with companies' logos. But perhaps the most prized commodities of all during the North Dakota Petroleum Council's annual meeting were business cards.

Companies ranging from Halliburton to Red Wing Shoes are on hand during the three-day event, along with public agencies such as the North Dakota Department of Transportation, as well as University of North Dakota's Petroleum Engineering Department. Many business representatives said they were hoping for more visibility among others working in the Oil Patch.

Petroleum Council President Ron Ness said this is the first time an expo with display booths has been held during the NDPC's annual meeting.

And it seems many businesses recognize the event can yield results.

Richard Warren, a sales manager for Winnipeg-based No-Spill Systems, said his company has seen more demand for its oil draining products from companies working in the Oil Patch. He said their products are used on drilling rigs, trucks and generators to service machinery lubrication more efficiently.

"The longer (the oil rigs) are down, the more it costs," he said.

Warren said the company was recently in Dallas for a trucking convention, but said there's much more opportunity for new business with North Dakota's oil industry.

"Those are the guys who are looking for solutions like this to help save money and make more money," he said.

Tapping the industry

Oil and gas production had a $30.4 billion impact on North Dakota in 2011, up from $4.4 billion in 2005, according to a North Dakota State University study. Many companies are trying to tap business opportunities in the Bakken oil formation of western North Dakota.

Trinity Consultants, an air quality permitting and environmental firm based in Dallas with a Minneapolis office, is looking to gain a larger presence in western North Dakota, where it traditionally hasn't done much business, said consultant Will Backus.

"It's nice to get our name out there," he said.

Others echoed that sentiment.

"It's a visual representation for us, so they get familiar with us," said Wayne Lagorin, president of Spartan Engineering Inc. "Even though we are based out of Tulsa (Okla.) and Denver, we do a lot of work up here."