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“It’s not too late”

By Jason Spiess

Those were the words uttered by former Gov. Ed Schafer in front of a standing-room-only audience at a conference last December in Rapid City, SD.  The Bakken oil boom has garnered interest from regional, national and international businesses and, according to Schafer, it’s not too late for businesses to participate in the booming economic growth in western North Dakota.

“We’ve got a long way to go to get this oil out of the ground. It’s certainly going to be a long-term play.”  said Schafer, who was North Dakota’s chief executive from 1992 to 2000, and who currently serves on the Board of Directors of Continental Resources Inc. Continental is the most active oil exploration and production company currently working the Bakken Formation.

One businessman who agrees with former Gov. Schafer is Paul Hegg, President and CEO of Sioux Falls-based Hegg Companies Inc. Hegg Companies are making Bakken-related business decisions on the expectation that oil production will continue for at least two decades.“I believe the science favors a three decade time line of this type of production.” Hegg said, “I would not be surprised if, when the USGS comes with their new estimates of Bakken reserves, we will see them double their last estimate.”

Hegg Companies is one congolmerate that has the inside track on the information and trends regarding the Bakken.  Like most entreprenuers who enter the Bakken with an idea, a few successful ones come out.

“I began traveling to the Bakken to get information on what is happening and how we can help,”  Hegg said. “The economic explosion was so dynamic that I wanted to share it with friends and clients. So we invited the political and business leaders from the Bakken to Sioux Falls in 2012 and over 175 folks spent the day learning about the Bakken.”

The Bakken Summit garnered so much interest from other business leaders across the country,  Hegg has gone on to host additional Bakken summits in Rapid City, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston and Minneapolis.

In addition to Schafer, other Bakken specialists have presented their industry views and information.  Other notable speakers include Joseph Mahon, a regional economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; Tom Rolfstad, Economic Development Director Williston; Jerry Chavez, Economic Development Director Minot; Branden Bestgen, Executive Director of the South Dakota Gas and Oil Association; Chris Faulkner, CEO, Breitling Oil & Gas; and Chad Johnson, Bank of North Dakota.

One of the newest trends coming out of the Bakken is the emphasis on technology.

“The Bakken boom is really more of a techonology boom,”  Schafer said. “Companies are developing cutting edge technologies to capture North Dakota resources.”

Hegg agrees with the former Governor regarding his views on technology.

“I totally agree and with current technology we are only getting 6% of oil reserves,”  Hegg said. “American-inspired technology doesn’t stop improving. That’s why science points to a three decade play.”

The driver in technology is hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It has been a referred to by many as a “game-changing tool” in terms of making oil production economical. Fracking involves injecting pressurized fluid into rock formations to create pathways for oil to gather for extraction.

Government agencies and businesses in the hub of activity, near Williston, N.D., are investing in infrastructure. “This is a strong indication that they are convinced development of oil reserves in the Bakken will not be short-lived,” Schafer said.

It seems Hegg has been taking notes at his conferences, as he gears up for a busy year in the Bakken.  In addition to their offices in Minot, Hegg Companies have future plans to put up apartment complexes in Minot, Williston and Watford City, along with Class A office space in Dickinson and Williston.  For more information on Paul Hegg visit www.heggcompanies.com or www.bakkensummit.com for information on the next summit.

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