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williston basin petroleum conference
State and industry leaders address the audience at the 2014 Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, the last time the event was hosted in Bismarck, North Dakota. (Image: Renaue Cartier Mitchell)

2016 Williston Basin Petroleum Conference – Bakken’s best foot forward

The last time the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference was hosted in Bismarck, North Dakota, attendees were sent back into the Oil Patch with the farewell, “The best is yet to come.”

Although that bright light on the horizon has turned to ominous and lingering clouds, industry leaders and policy makers alike have yet to label the Bakken as busted. Activity in the second largest shale formation in the U.S. is going to be around for decades into the future, but it’s changing.

This year’s conference, which alternates each year between Bismarck and Saskatchewan, Canada, will examine how and why key players are moving forward into the formation’s harvesting phase. Some companies are, unfortunately, dropping from the game. The survivors, however, are shifting their focus to what U.S. shale producers do best – innovate and improve.

Anyone with an interest in the energy industry and its activity in the Williston Basin is encouraged to attend the conference held on May 24-26. Presentations and speaking topics will range from energy supply and demand in North America, as well as worldwide, technical talks about the engineering and sciences being deployed in the Bakken, managing and minimizing community impacts, and many others. To view the full 2016 WBPC agenda, click here.

Coaching when it counts

This year’s keynote speaker is legendary University of Notre Dame Football coach Lou Holtz. He is the only coach in the history of college football to take six different teams to a bowl game, win five bowl games with different teams and have four different college teams ranked in the final Top 20 poll.

2016 williston basin petroleum conference keynote 'lou holtz

Legendary Notre Dame Football coach Lou Holtz will share his insights on how to coach your team through challenging time. (Image courtesy of Lou Holtz)

“Holtz sometimes can seem like a one-man army but team efforts are what he cherishes the most. Lou’s Lads—his Notre Dame players—may be his best example,” writes Bill Moor in Holtz’s professional biography. Holtz tells them, “I don’t want you to be content with who you are or what you have accomplished.”

Operations in the Bakken are now shifting from the aggressive forward momentum of discovery and exploration into the harvesting phase. As the market slump persists, activity and investments are becoming more strategic as leaders in the Bakken anticipate how action in the play will change.

Today Holtz takes his expertise off the field and is dedicated to sharing his leadership experience and the lessons learned. His presentation aims to help others grow into the leadership roles required to confidently lead their companies and teams to success in the face of difficulties and challenges.

Although the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) anticipates lower attendance this year due to the market downturn, those present will include the key players and policymakers continuing to drive development in the Bakken forward.  Featured speakers include:

  • Jay Ottoson —  President and Chief Executive Officer of SM Energy
  • Don Hrap – President of Lower 48 for ConocoPhillips
  • Jim Volker – Chairman, President and CEO of Whiting Petroleum Corp.
  • Rick Muncrief – President and CEO of WPX Energy
  • Gerbert Schoonman – Vice President of Onshore Bakken for Hess Corp.
  • John Gerdes – Managing Director and Head of Research for KLR Group

2016 williston basin petroleum conference speakers

To view the complete list of WBPC presenters and their biographies, click here.

Outlook and prices

For those keeping close watch, market conditions and oil prices remain the top concern for moving the Bakken forward. Sourcing from his personal experience with energy markets and finance, Head of Research for KLR Group John Gerdes will discuss what trajectory the market will likely travel during 2016 and beyond.

KLR Group is a full-service investment and merchant bank (based out of Houston and New York) specializing in the natural gas resources sector. Its focus is directed toward exploration & production companies, service providers, and midstream/infrastructure carriers and processors.

Gerdes will share his insights gathered throughout his 30 years within the energy industry and how it relates to the current state of energy markets. Gerdes has appeared on CNBC News as an industry analyst and aims to give attendees a broader understanding of energy markets and how they will impact the industry operating in the Bakken.

The downturn, unfortunately, has also prompted many companies to sell off assets in efforts to balance spending and lines of credit. Navigating the rising trend of mergers and acquisitions can be difficult, but energy investment banker Nick Woodruff, along with Richardson Barr from the Royal Bank of Canada, will share their observations and analysis on the current state of energy markets, as well as how to properly handle acquisitions and divestments in the U.S.

Opportunities beyond the Bakken

But with so much focus on the energy industry itself, sometimes it’s easy to forget about the impacts it has on other industry sectors. This year’s WBPC will also highlight how the oil market will affect, as well as create, opportunities for businesses outside of oil and gas.

2016 williston basin petroleum conference

View of the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference exhibition floor at Bismarck in 2014. (Image: Renae Cartier Mitchell)

In a cyclical industry such as oil and gas, it can be difficult to know exactly when to engage in and increase the scale of new or growing business ventures. President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Neel Kashkari will share his wisdom, but also the Bank’s research and studies, to illustrate exactly how far reaching the economic impact of the Bakken oil patch is within the Midwestern region.

Additionally, CEO of MBI Energy Services Jim Arthaud and California real estate developer Ernie Graham (with experience ranging from Houston, Texas to Silicon Valley) will share their experiences with investing, managing and surviving the boom and bummer cycles of energy markets.

Down, but not out

In 2014, the conference was attended by over 4,200 total registrants hailing from every State except Hawaii, six Canadian provinces and nine different countries. The NDPC also partnered with over 150 sponsors and saw a total 530 exhibitor booths.

Although last year’s conference in Saskatchewan witnessed lower registration compared to the year before the price collapse, the 2016 WBPC remains the largest event in the world dedicated to the Bakken Shale formation.

Much like the NDPC’s annual symposium, the three day event will focus intently on the emerging technologies and techniques being used in the Bakken today, and what might be used in the future, as harvesting in the Bakken starts to bloom.

To find out more information or to register for the 2016 Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, visit the event’s registration page here. For information about how to register as a WBPC exhibitor, click here.

2016 williston basin petroleum conference

(Image: Renae Cartier Mitchell)


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