Expectations For The 24th Williston Basin Petroleum Conference

By Tessa Sandstrom | January 01, 2016

We recently bid farewell to 2015, and for many in the oil and gas sector, ushering in a new year was welcome. The year presented many challenges and these challenges were highlighted often. What was not highlighted, however, was just how well the industry was able to manage.

In reading through a write-up from last year, I had lauded the fact that industry was figuring out how to produce oil economically at $70 and even less. Today, prices are under $40, but production has continued as industry has gotten better and better at recovering more oil with less. This is thanks in part to advancements in technology, which will be a major focus of this year’s Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, N.D., May 24-26. 

The WBPC began as a hydraulic fracturing symposium and explored the technologies that have since unlocked the Bakken, defining our region as one of the top energy producers in the world. This is a feat that more than a decade ago may not have seemed plausible. At that time, the retrieving Bakken crude was still considered uneconomic. The relentless work of industry pioneers led to the innovation and combinations of technologies that have since made the Bakken shale play a world-class resource. The conference has evolved since its early days to focus on more efficient oil drilling and completion methods that are helping us recover more than 1 million bopd from the Williston Basin.

This year, we are pleased to welcome many prominent industry and company leaders to discuss the technologies and efficiencies that are changing the way we develop our vast natural resources. Among them will be SM Energy’s president and CEO Jay Ottoson. Ottoson has more than 28 years’ experience in the industry and will share his knowledge and experience in optimization. Also joining him on this topic will be Gerbert Schoonman vice president for Hess Corp.’s Bakken assets, to talk about the company’s work with efficiency, lean manufacturing and the future of the Bakken in the current conditions.

One of the bright spots of 2015 was the passage of a provision that lifts the ban on crude oil exports. For more than 40 years, the U.S. was victim of price fixing by OPEC. This ban prevented the U.S. from participating in what is otherwise a global market, but Congress wisely voted to lift that ban in December. While the benefits of lifting this ban won’t be immediate, it does present an opportunity for Bakken crude to find new markets with our allies in Europe and Asia.

To discuss these new market opportunities will be Lian Yok Tan from K&L Gates out of Singapore. Ms. Tan has more than 20 years of experience in energy, including serving as an advisor to companies on joint ventures and mergers, project development, financing and operation and oil and gas exploration and commercialization among other areas of expertise.

Attendees will also hear a keynote address from Don Hrap, president of Lower 48 for ConocoPhillips. Hrap leads the development, operations and services related to the company’s exploration and production business in the Lower 48 region of the U.S. and will offer valuable insight into the future of the Bakken and ConocoPhillips’ involvement as one of the largest producers in North Dakota.

Encouraging our industry’s best and brightest to find these new opportunities will require leadership, especially during these more difficult times. To inspire current and future leaders, legendary coach Lou Holtz will provide the keynote address the final day of the conference. Deemed “the master of the turnaround,” Holtz’s experiences and lessons learned as a coach can be applied outside of sports, especially when and where leadership is needed most. 

We also want to thank this year’s participants and sponsors. We recognize that there are many shows each year focused on the oil and gas industry, but your continued support ensures that we can continue the WBPC and its reputation as one of the best and biggest conferences dedicated to the Bakken and shale plays overall.

A few years back, the motto for the WBPC was “The best is yet to come.” We still believe that’s true. We look forward to the discussions that will grow out of the 24th Annual WBPC and continue the momentum we have seen in the Williston Basin well into 2016 and beyond.

Author: Tessa Sandstrom
Communications Manager,
North Dakota Petroleum Council