MAKING IT: ND Trade Mission Connects Bakken to Canadian Investors

Donovan Johnson is on a mission to connect Canadian investors, businesses and delegates with the Bakken.
By The Bakken Magazine Staff | April 30, 2014

Donovan Johnson is on a mission to connect Canadian investors, businesses and delegates with the Bakken. In early June, Johnson, the North Dakota Trade Office’s director of resource management, is leading a trade mission to three Canadian cities, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The goal of the eastern Canada trade mission is two-fold, he said. First, Johnson wants to link North Dakota government and agency officials to brief their Canadian counterparts on the state’s energy industry and successes. Second, Johnson will work to introduce and arrange a series of one-on-one meetings for N.D.-businesses and project developers seeking capital, partnership opportunities, joint ventures or government contacts located in Canada. “We want to communicate that the energy play in North Dakota is no longer a boom or bust scenario but a proven industry,” he says.

The trade mission will also focus on the use of unmanned aerial systems in North Dakota. The main stop for any participating Bakken entity will be in Toronto. While there, Johnson and his team will connect businesses and project developers with investment capital firms, banks and other Canadian-based energy companies to present energy play opportunities in the Bakken oil play. “Toronto is Canada’s business and financial capital and second-largest financial services center in North America. If you are needing additional capital for your business or looking for possible joint ventures or partnerships,” Johnson said, “you should plan on going to Toronto.” Drew Wrigley, N.D.'s lieutenant governor, will lead the trade mission. He will be accompanied by members from the N.D. commerce department.

For companies interested in vetting Canadian-based firms, the U.S. Commercial Service will offer business matchmaking services to any interested party on the trade mission. The USCS can help determine appropriate matches and perform due diligence on Canadian companies before helping to set-up one-on-one meetings.

Although the NDTO’s main mission is to link North Dakota and Canadian entities for near-term Bakken business opportunities, part of the mission is geared towards helping current Bakken businesses with access to future markets around the globe. “Eventually, there will be companies presently doing business in the Bakken that will be exporting their product, service, expertise or knowledge to foreign markets,” Johnson said. “This trade mission can act as a precursor to those endeavors.”

The NDTO primarily works with N.D.-based firms that export products or services to international markets. Canada has been the state’s largest trading partner since the state’s trading history began. The NDTO currently works with several Bakken-based businesses in the manufacturing and services sector, helping them to export their activities, Johnson said. Due to the success of the Bakken, the NDTO has accompanied numerous delegates from foreign countries to understand the technologies used to drill and extract oil and gas. “As a result of the successes of the companies and technologies deployed, there are more Bakken-based companies that will eventually export their products or services to international markets,” he said. “This trade mission can act as a precursor to those endeavors.”

Since 2005, North Dakota’s merchandise sales in foreign markets have increased 173 percent, rising from $1.1 billion to $3 billion. Canada accounts for more than 60 percent of North Dakota’s export sales, according to the NDTO.

Any business, delegate or party interested in the trade mission should contact Johnson to join the trade mission. And, if the trade mission date does not work for any interested party, Johnson said other opportunities or options will remain for any N.D.-based Bakken business to connect with investors or others in Canada through connections made by the NDTO.