Bakken 2.0 : The New Normal in 2017 and Beyond

Oil prices seemed to have bottomed out, and the industry appears to be slowly coming out of dormancy. Although market conditions are still short of ideal, the slight uptick of activity is a sign of relief for many in North Dakota.
By Ron Ness | September 16, 2016

Oil prices seemed to have bottomed out, and the industry appears to be slowly coming out of dormancy. Although market conditions are still short of ideal, the slight uptick of activity is a sign of relief for many in North Dakota.

Many have pointed to the recent down cycle as a traditional “bust,” but for those paying closer attention, what we’ve seen over the past two years is more of a reboot. Industry used the downtime to take a closer look at operations, trim the fat, and find better, more innovative ways to do more using less. Technology and efficiencies have emerged to better define the industry, and usher in a new era of oil and gas development, one that will be less prone to boom and bust cycles and more of a steady mainstay in our state’s economy.

This next era will be among the topics of this year’s North Dakota Petroleum Council Annual Meeting to be held in Minot on Sept. 19-21. Industry experts will be on hand to talk about the latest innovations, including Bakken refracks, and Continental Resources President and COO Jack Stark will give a keynote address outlining his thoughts and visions of the future of the Bakken.

But the future of the industry rests on more than its ability to evolve and innovate while facing market headwinds. Today, the greatest threat the industry faces is regulatory overreach from the federal government. The rules, which have come out of the EPA and BLM, are duplicative and not only usurp the state’s regulatory authority, but would also have the opposite intended effect, rolling back the progress industry has made at addressing challenges such as flaring. Furthermore, these rules come at a time when industry is working to preserve jobs and move toward recovery. According to a docket filed with the EPA, simply gathering the information required under EPA’s proposed rules would cost the industry $40 million. The rules would also come at a significant cost to the state and impact its ability to administer its oil and gas regulatory program, no doubt causing additional unintended challenges for our state.

With it being an election year, the future of our energy industries and the country they fuel remains uncertain. Americans will have the opportunity to embrace our country’s new role as an energy superpower or revert back to the decades where we were reliant on energy from nations that fund terrorism and would rather do us harm. We will have the choice to continue to fuel a manufacturing renaissance powered by affordable and abundant energy that brought jobs and opportunity back to the U.S., or we can see those jobs return overseas. We can choose to continue our path forward in fueling our allies and helping ease geopolitical conflicts, or we can return back to our years as hostages of authoritative regimes. This and more is at stake.

Annual meeting attendees will have the opportunity to hear from Andrew Browning, executive vice president of Consumer Energy Alliance, on the Campaign for America’s Energy and how the industry and its employees can—and must—motivate its bases to ensure we elect candidates who will stand for a fair regulatory environment. We will also have the opportunity to hear from North Dakota’s gubernatorial candidates on their visions for the future of our great state.

As summer wanes, a new year approaches and we have an opportunity to help write the future for our industry and the state. We look forward to beginning that dialogue at our 2016 Annual Meeting and hope to see many of you there, ready to launch the next era of development and prosperity in North Dakota.  

Author: Ron Ness
President,
North Dakota Petroleum Council
tsandstrom@ndoil.org
701-557-7744