Posted 8/03/11 (Wed)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
If you made it out to the Bakken Rocks CookFest, then you enjoyed good food, a fun atmosphere, music, and information on the oil industry’s activities in the Bakken oil play in western North Dakota.
The oilfield companies really went all out to deliver to the people of McKenzie County. But, more than offering a good time, CookFest reconfirmed that the oil boom is here to stay.
“Oil companies are trying their best to be part of the solution,” says Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council. The problems he is referring to are the ‘hottest Bakken topics’ presently facing western North Dakota: roads, housing and infrastructure. Ness understands they have been a growing concern for those affected by the oil industry, but he stresses that they are a concern for the oil industry as well.
Ness brought in representatives from across the region to speak on oil and gas industry issues. And their messages were the same - more is coming. More trucks, people, wells, rigs, construction, work, etc. The scope of all these changes has yet to be quantified, but one thing was made clear, the oil industry doesn’t have any plans of moving out.
Kathy Neset, geologist and owner of Neset Consulting, has identified four phases to drilling and oil recovery. Right now, Kathy states, we are between phase one and phase two.
Kathy also states that two years ago, with the technology present then, researchers projected that the Bakken had four billion barrels of recoverable oil. Today, with drilling technology improving and with new formations being identified, oil industry experts predict there is even more oil that can be recovered than was initially estimated.
The natural gas industry has become closely linked to this boom as well. Mick Urban, representing Oneok partners, states that his company will be investing $2 billion dollars in the construction of the Garden Creek Natural Gas Plant, which is located northeast of Watford City, and that they are intending it to be operational by the end of the year. In addition, the Bakken Pipeline is projected for completion by 2013.
All these facts support the notion that the oil industry has a lot of growing yet to do.
In addition to “being here to stay,” there was an expressed concern and appreciation for the people of this area, and a desire to work together. A sentiment really evidenced clearly through the CookFest event.
According to Ness, the oilfield companies have done their best to help with roads, housing and infrastructure, and they are hoping that through CookFest and other programs, people will see that.
‘Progress Zone’ is one campaign Ness hopes will carry this message and help save lives.
“For the roads to get better, we have to have road construction,” states Ness. “Safety is a priority and we want to avoid unnecessary traffic deaths.” Campaign ‘Progress Zone’ will run on billboards and, if allowed, in schools to send the message to everyone, “Slow down. It’s not worth losing your life over.”
Ness also touched on housing, and stressed the importance of the ‘crew camps,’ stating that 15,000 workers are currently housed in crew camps all over the Bakken.
“The infrastructure simply can’t keep up with the Bakken pace,” says Ness. He adds that they are needed right now, and they are actually law enforcement friendly, so companies will keep directing their investments toward them.
The oilfield industry doesn’t want to alienate or run over the people of this area, and they understand that’s exactly what’s happening.
Change is inevitable. When things change, we must lose a part of ourself and what was, in order to adjust. If the message of the Bakken Rocks CookFest is sincere, then hopefully, in working with the oilfield industry, we won’t have to lose too much of ourselves and can retain our identity in and through this boom.