Public learns just how big the Bakken can be

When it comes to the Bakken, we're only at the beginning, energy industry insiders told an audience of oil experts and novices Tuesday at the Astoria Hotel & Events Center.

Linda Renaud
Linda Renaud, who recently moved to Dickinson from Goshen, Ind., asks a question at Tuesday’s Bakken Education Session, which kicked off the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s annual meeting. She said she tried to learn about the oil boom before coming to the area, but “you don’t see the realities until you get here.” (Press Photo by Nadya Faulx)

When it comes to the Bakken, we’re only at the beginning, energy industry insiders told an audience of oil experts and novices Tuesday at the Astoria Hotel & Events Center.
The North Dakota Petroleum Council kicked off its annual conference at the hotel with a free “Bakken Education Session” for the general public, where moderators looked at the history and future of the industry that’s now producing 1 million barrels of oil per day.
“The technology of tomorrow - and I mean tomorrow, the next week, the next couple of months, the next few years - are going to continue to make this a bigger and bigger play,” said Kathy Neset of Neset Consulting Service. “We are still early in this Bakken/Three Forks play.”
Neset said she predicts recovery, now at just 7 percent of the total Bakken formation, could reach the 20 to 25 percent range as new technology develops.
“I think that we have a huge future ahead of us with this Bakken,” she said.
With that growth will come new issues to resolve, Neset said, from debates over fracking and flaring to rail transport and disposal sites. The conference’s busy schedule over the next two days will include sessions on how different industry players are handling such issues, from agency regulations to legislative measures.
Petroleum Council President Ron Ness said the policies North Dakota is enacting will shape those in the energy industry throughout the country, and possibly the world.
“We are the learning curve for the world,” Ness told the audience. “The world is intrigued by what we’re doing. People come from all over the world to see what we’re doing right, and see what we’re doing wrong.”
Even with community leaders who are well-versed in energy matters in attendance, including Republican District 37 Rep. Vicki Steiner and Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson, the session was geared toward non-industry insiders interested in learning more about one of the most lucrative endeavors in North Dakota - 60,000 jobs and counting, according to Department of Mineral Resources spokeswoman Alison Ritter.
Neset commended the 70 or so attendees for taking the time to attend the session and learn about the industry.
“This is important. This is what North Dakota does,” she said. “People go out and talk about things with passion, but they don’t have the facts. That I have a little problem with. I like to see we get our facts straight, and then everyone can make up their minds whether or not they like this operation.”
Linda Renaud, who moved with her husband to Dickinson in June, said she was glad the council held the session. The artist, whose husband, Dick Rinearson, is the pastor at Dickinson’s United Methodist Church, is the type of person the session is geared toward.
“I’m just trying to learn about what the realities are, and understand,” she said. “There’s just so much, all of this ripples out. It affects every part.”
Renaud said she tried to learn about the effects of the boom before she arrived in the area from Goshen, Ind., but “you don’t see the realities until you get here.” She said she was surprised to hear how long the boom is expected to last - at high estimates, into the next century.
“The old timers remember the ’80s boom and bust,” she said. “This is not that.”

Faulx is a reporter with The Press. Contact her at 701-456-1207

Related Topics: DICKINSON
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