The Ultimate Bakken Resources

By Luke Geiver | January 20, 2014

The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources has led the state’s oil and gas industry into unprecedented territory. Led by Lynn Helms, an oil industry veteran with an undeniably impressive resume and an unmatched understanding of the Williston Basin’s oil and gas operational, economical and geographical environment, the DMR will very soon be regulating a state that produces one million barrels of oil per day, second only to Texas. As the play has evolved, so too has the DMR’s status. Helms, and several of the other DMR decision makers, have become go-to industry experts, speakers and borderline celebrities. National oil groups and gatherings, the Lyons Club and every type of group in-between wants to hear from Helms and his staff about the latest on the Bakken and Three Forks shale plays.

In December, I had the opportunity to spend an entire day with the main members of the DMR team at their facilities in Bismarck for a story that could fulfill the January feature theme of policy. As the feature story, "Resource Regulators," shows, it was a busy day. I tried to capture the important moments and perspectives gleaned from my time with the DMR crew, including: Helm’s 2014 predictions; Alison Ritter, public information officer, and her efforts to communicate with industry and the public; Bruce Hicks, assistant director, and his ability to help other state’s regulate up-and-coming shale plays; State Geologist Ed Murphy’s role in finding the next Bakken; and Permit Manager Todd Holweger’s constant quest to stay consistent with permitting, even after his office has seen an increase in permits from two or three per day in 2006, to the present number of 20 permits per day.

There are many ways to describe the entire DMR staff: busy, intuitive, respected, challenged. I would argue that the best way to describe the DMR’s abilities in the Bakken impressive. Helm’s thoughts about what he believes is the DMR’s story at the end of the feature prove why.

Within the impressive category is another North Dakota-based Bakken team that is making major impacts on the play. If you attend The Bakken-Three Forks Shale Oil Innovation Conference & Expo, Feb. 10-12 in Grand Forks, N.D., you’ll understand why the University of North Dakota’s Department of Petroleum Engineering is quickly becoming a major player in the Bakken. The event will feature more than 80 presentations delivered from industry experts on topics ranging from exploration and production trends to transportation and logistics advancements. Without revealing too much bias, the main-stage presentation, which will include Steve Benson, chair of the petroleum engineering department, has me and other industry representatives I’ve talked with about the event excited. Benson will be speaking on innovation in the Bakken, and, more specifically, how his team is working to find new technologies or strategies applicable to the future of the Bakken and which areas of the play’s operations will benefit from such innovation.




Autor: Luke Geiver
The Bakken magazine