A few weeks ago, 2,500 people from the oil and gas industry gathered in Bismarck for the biennial Williston Basin Petroleum Conference. The conference didn't receive much fanfare from our local media, which is unfortunate because the Bakken is proving itself to still be one of the most opportune oil formations in the world.
Here are five things every North Dakotan should know after WBPC:
• First, the benefits of the Dakota Access Pipeline are clear. In just one year of operation, the pipeline now carries nearly half of the oil produced in the state. The pipeline has been shown to save approximately $2.50 in transportation costs per barrel and has already earned the state an extra $110 million in taxes.
• Secondly, production and employment remain strong, with production set to reach record levels, likely crossing 1.3 million barrels per day this year. Similarly, the industry accounts for 30 percent of wages in the state, and the need for workers is akin to the craze of 2012.
• Next, efficiency has spread throughout the industry and region due to infrastructure improvements and cost controls working together. The industry has become more efficient with multipad drilling, while better roads have decreased travel costs.
• Fourthly, sophisticated technology is driving the Bakken's resurgence. Engineers are using fiber optics to model the reservoir and individual fractures of the rock. Advanced metallurgy is used to install temporary plugs that purposefully disintegrate over a short period of weeks. These advancements allowed new well production to increase by an outstanding 20 percent in only a year from 2016 to 2017.
• Finally, optimism is abundant in the industry. The CEO of Whiting, the state's largest producer, announced an investment of $3 billion in gas capture projects in the next 18 months. The comment earned hardly a mention, possibly because it is only a component of what is likely more than $10 billion per year in new investment plus several more in ongoing operations.
The Bakken is a magnificent opportunity not only because of geological luck. Our state and the industry implemented innovative technologies, made strategic investments and developed the right regulations to make this an opportunity that will last for our grandchildren's grandchildren.
Dunn lives in Devils Lake, N.D.