Finding the Next Innovation

Top researchers, industry experts, executives and technology providers will address the future of the Bakken-Three Forks Shale play at an event aimed at the Bakken's global impact and potential for innovation.
By The Bakken magazine staff | January 22, 2014

For three days in February, the future of the Bakken and Three Forks shale plays will be in Grand Forks, N.D. The Bakken-Three Forks Shale Oil Innovation Conference & Expo, a collaborative event created by The Bakken magazine and the University of North Dakota’s College of Engineering, and Mines, the Department of Petroleum Engineering and the Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Engineering, will feature industry CEOs, water experts, completion design managers, flaring specialists, engineers and some of the play’s leading researchers. The event will combine main stage presentations with dedicated breakout track panels, all focused on a singular theme: innovation.

Steve Benson, chair of UND’s Department of Petroleum Engineering, will headline a panel of speakers who are at the forefront of the Williston Basin’s future. Benson will discuss the research efforts that his staff and students have undertaken in the past three years—efforts that are a direct result of industry requests and partnership proposals. According to Benson, the research work will help to meet industry needs of the present, and change the way Bakken-focused firms operate in the future. Joining Benson on the panel, “Finding The Next Innovation,” will be Jim Sorensen, senior research manager for the Energy & Environmental Research Center, and John Staub, team leader of exploration and production for the U.S. Energy Information Agency’s Office of Petroleum.

Sorensen will deliver a presentation and an update on the EERC’s efforts to utilize CO2 in the oil industry. His presentation, “Potential to Use CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery in the Bakken,” will reveal how the EERC and industry partners have been able to tackle the Holy Grail of the Bakken’s future, EOR. One of EERC’s partners, Denbury Resources, has already purchased property in the Cedar Creek anticline of both Montana and North Dakota for more than $1 billion.

In his presentation, Staub will explain why the EIA has created and is now perfecting a better way to track shale oil production. Earlier this year, Staub and his team unveiled a tracking method that accounts for drilling rig efficiency, initial production rates, decline curves and other metrics that are calculated to better assess North America oil production that is largely driven by horizontal drilling. Lynn Westfall, EIA’s director, calls the new oil reporting method exciting from an intellectual standpoint and for the industry.

Bruce Hicks, North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources assitant director, will discuss new rules and regulations that will take effect in April 2014. Hicks will also explain new efforts by the DMR to unitize poritons of the Williston Basin that will help establish energy corridors and reduce surface footprint. 

Joeseph Hartmann, director of the Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Engineering, will present on the current state of the school’s research efforts since Hamm and Continental Resources Inc. invested a total of $14 million in the school. Hartmann will also provide a list of benefits associated with the school’s resources, including the Continental Resources High Resolution Virtual Core Library. Will Gosnold, another researcher from the Harold Hamm School, will discuss his efforts to make geothermal heat an alternative to well site power in the Bakken. A poster session on display for the entire event will offer the most promising young researchers two days to offer insight to the most promising research projects. Some of the student presentations have been delivered to Houston-based executives through private meetings.

For those interested in the use of water in the Williston Basin, an all-star group of experts will provide an update on several major projects or technologies recently deployed in the play. Members from Halliburton, AE2S Water Solutions and GE Power & Water will all discuss efforts to recycle frack water, pipe recycled water from the well site or decrease disposal costs by treating frack water.

To highlight the innovation approaches used to create some of the highest producing Bakken wells to date, Liberty Resources will lead a panel focused on explaining the methods used to turn a potential well site into a record-breaking well. In July 2013, Liberty Resources sold its Bakken assets, but prior to the asset sale, the Denver-based completion and production company, had proven that its approach to completing a Bakken well was second to none. According to Liberty, the company’s unique completion design was pumped on a total of 86 company-operated and partner company wells, “resulting in the highest production rates per well among operators in the Bakken formation.” Liberty will be joined by a Canadian-based company, NCS Energy Services LLC, that has quietly been completing wells with three-mile laterals and over 50 discrete fracture stages per well using an innovative down hole tool.

To answer any questions regarding the future of proppant usage in the Williston Basin, Carbo Ceramics Global Engineering Advisor Terry Palisch will present on the ins and outs of proppant selection in the Williston Basin, including new products and operator trends. Scott Greenbauer, technical product manager from Texas-based Santrol, will unveil a newly created self-suspending proppant technology that offers better production without increased cost. The proppant technology has just started to break into the Bakken, according to Greenbauer. Both will be speaking on the panel, “The Proppant Push: Trends in Size, Placement, Type and Volume.”

For an update on the overall North American oil energy industry, the American Petroleum Institute’s Chief Economist, John Felmy, will deliver a speech on the policies, economics and regulations that are worth noting in 2014.

North Dakota is responsible for the two most recent refinery projects since the '70s, and members from the Dakota Prairie Refinery under development near Dickinson, N.D., and the Thunder Butte Refinery under development on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, will each provide an update and overview of the respective projects.

Patrick Montalban, president and CEO of Mountainview Energy, a Montana-based exploration and production company, will provide an all-access glimpse into the world of a small, independent operator and what it takes to finance, contract, complete and operate a Bakken well in the past and into the future.

Building Business in the Bakken
Innovation in the oil patch isn’t linked solely to energy-related technology. And, a one-day preconference seminar aimed at helping businesses of all kinds understand, expand or maintain operations in the Bakken, will show why. The preconference seminar has brought together many of the play’s leading minds and decision makers responsible for developing economic success. The seminar will include the following multi-presentation panels: The New Boom: Emerging Markets and New Opportunities in the Bakken; Accessing Bakken Business: Case Studies in Successful Company Entries and Sustainable Business Models; The Case for Place: Why Companies Operate From Within the Bakken.

The emerging markets panel will include presentations from Tom Rolfstad, director for the Williston Area Development Foundation, Jerry Chavez, president and CEO, Minot Area Development Corp. and Darick Franzen, president, Watford City Chamber of Commerce.

Keith Lund, vice president of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp., will deliver a keynote presentation explaining his team’s success at bringing major Bakken-business entities to the region. Lund was recently elected to the Greater North Dakota Chamber board of directors.

The Collaborative Energy Complex, a multi-million dollar research facility that will unite the state's energy industry with some of the top researchers at the University of North Dakota, is currently under development. Representatives from the school will provide an update on the project and its potential impact to the state's energy industry. 

Sponsors for the entire three-day event range from the quickly growing pipeline firm, Chaznline Construction, to Coil Chem LLC, an Oklahoma-based chemical provider. The event has also drawn interest from several media partners, including among many, The Williston Herald. The North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties highlights a list of supporting organizations involved with the event.