Williston Basin Petroleum Conference to be biggest, best yet

By Tessa Sandstrom | April 30, 2014

“The best is yet to come.”

 This was the promise from the 2012 Williston Basin Petroleum Conference when it was last held in Bismarck. The slogan, of course, alluded to the potential of the Bakken and Three Forks formations in North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan and the tremendous economic and career opportunities it brings to our region. With the WBPC now just weeks away, however, that slogan could also apply to this year’s conference, with more than 400 exhibitors and a great line-up of speakers.

The 2012 conference sold out in a record time of 17 minutes, but that record was eclipsed this January when booth space sold out within four minutes and more than 800 people were still online trying to secure their space. Hotel rooms for Bismarck-Mandan are already booked, and this year is promising to be the largest WBPC yet.

It’s no wonder; the Bakken continues to draw national and international attention, with reporters, ambassadors and leaders visiting from Japan, Norway, Australia, India, Germany and others, as the Bakken has helped make North Dakota a Cinderella story of sorts. Where our state once only topped the lists of states with the largest outmigration of young people or states with the oldest population, North Dakota has now found itself atop lists ranking the best states for young people, the best states for job creation, and the happiest states.

Despite being more than eight years into what is often called the Bakken Boom (a boom it is not, but rather a continually growing play and industry), this limelight and attention is still a fairly new phenomenon for North Dakota, which was once cast aside as nothing more than a flyover state or a buffalo commons. Now, we continue to attract renowned journalists and commentators, including television and radio personality, Sean Hannity. After interviewing Billings County Commissioner and industry leader Jim Arthaud of MBI Energy Services on his radio program, Hannity agreed to see the Bakken for himself and will be the keynote speaker at this year’s WBPC. Arthaud personally invited Hannity to the conference to be a keynote speaker and will also host Hannity on a tour of the Bakken.

Hannity has often highlighted North Dakota on his show and in his blog as an example for the nation in creating jobs, growing our economy, and moving us toward energy independence. “Unleash our resources. Unleash the ingenuity of American innovators. Unleash the work ethic of Americans desperate to work hard and earn a good living. We have the ability to be a thriving nation,” he wrote. And, as we will see and learn from many of the speakers at this year’s WBPC, that’s exactly what we’ve done in North Dakota and will continue to do.

As a well-known speaker, journalist, author and political commentator, Hannity has no doubt traveled the nation. We are excited to hear Hannity’s perspective about how our little state of North Dakota and our neighbors, Montana and Saskatchewan, are making a difference throughout the nation and even the world. We also look forward to introducing him to the many men and women who have helped develop the Bakken through technology and innovation that has helped make the Williston Basin a leader in the national energy renaissance, bringing us closer to energy security and reviving the American dream.

Hannity, of course, is not our only renowned speaker. Joining him will be some of the energy leaders themselves, including Continental CEO Harold Hamm, Oasis Petroleum CEO Tommy Nusz, Marathon CEO Lee Tillman, and Whiting Petroleum CEO Jim Volker who will discuss the industry’s future in North Dakota. More than 70 other speakers will address topics covering Bakken pipeline and rail infrastructure, impacts, flaring technologies, Bakken optimization, geology and more.

While all of these great talks will be open only to WBPC attendees, new to this year’s conference will be two Bakken Education Sessions. These sessions will be held at the Ramkota Ballroom and are free and open to the public. Ron Ness of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, Kathy Neset, a geologist and owner of Neset Consulting Service, and Alison Ritter of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources will each give presentations on the basics of Bakken geology, drilling, and hydraulic fracturing and take questions from the audience. Two separate sessions will be held Tuesday, May 20, with one beginning at 1:30 p.m. and another beginning at 3:30 p.m., and we encourage the public to come and learn more about this burgeoning industry.

For more information about the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, visit www.wbpcnd.org.
Author: Tessa Sandstrom
Communications Manager,
North Dakota Petroleum Council