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Williston Basin Petroleum Conference event floor, 2013.

Williston Basin Petroleum Conference: One basin fueling two nations

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It’s that time of year again, when the geese fly home and the oil and gas industry heads north to attend the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference (WBPC): a place where oil and gas experts mingle with industry leaders and converge to discuss tight oil wells, the Bakken formation, how to maximize returns and the current state of the industry.

The annual conference alternates each year between Canada and its neighbor to the south, North Dakota. The upcoming conference, celebrating its 23rd year, will be held in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. In a collaboration between the Petroleum Tech Research Centre (PTRC) and the Saskatchewan Geological Survey, the event will take place on Tuesday, April 28, through Thursday, April 30, at Evraz Place.

The three day conference will include informative discussions and presentations on a variety of issues currently impacting the Bakken region in Canada, North Dakota and Montana. Topics being covered include the transportation of crude oil, production optimization, the region’s geological characteristics, new and emerging technologies, as well as regulatory and environmental issues.

Norm Sacuta, communications manager for the PTRC commented, “Companies will be making presentations highlighting current operations and successes … Many other presentations will be offered from organizations such as the Environmental and Energy Research Center (EERC), based at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.”

Members of the National Energy Board, Ministry of the Economy, and Geological Survey of Canada will also be addressing the outlook of oil production in the region and providing assessments of the current state of the region’s petroleum reserves.

The EERC, working with the Colorado School of Mines, is scheduled to present on two of the days at the conference. The EERC conducts field research that includes testing, analysis, and characterization of reservoirs within the Bakken formation. The EERC also helps oil and gas companies to optimize their existing wells. “Hearing from [these two organizations] will be interesting for lots of people,” Sacuta said.

As drilling technology continues to advance, many exploration firms are adopting enhanced oil recovery as a way to maximize a well’s rate of return. Many of the presentations will examine the most effective enhanced extraction methods and how to translate research performed in the lab to the oilfields. Research performed by the EERC, for example, has been focusing on the use of carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery.

Companies such as Baker Hughes will also be testifying on the effectiveness of some of its enhanced recovery programs. Because the Bakken formation in Canada is a thinner pay zone than what is found in North Dakota, which leads to a rapid decline in initial production levels, the PTRC is optimistic that the continued research will help to increase production returns in Canada’s tight oil plays.

New this year, though, is a segment that includes somewhat of a departure from the typical oil and gas industry conference presentations. The beginning of the conference will have a featured afternoon addressing the ‘supply and service’ sector outside the immediate oil and gas industry. This seminar will focus on educating manufacturing, construction, equipment and other service providers (such as catering, clothing, and other ancillary businesses) on how to capitalize on current oil and gas activity.

The featured key-note speaker, concluding the event, is the Economics and Commodity Market Specialist and Vice-President of the Toronto-based Scotiabank, Patricia M. Mohr. She operates closely with the bank’s Institutional Equity Sales and Global Risk Management team, and with Corporate and Investment Banking groups with close ties to the oil and gas industry.

Mohr helped to develop the first index which measured price trends for Canadian commodities in export markets, dubbed the Scotiabank Commodity Price Index. She makes frequent appearances and gives presentations at international oil and gas conferences such as the ‘Platts Crude Oil Markets’ in Houston, Texas, ‘China Mining 2014’ in Tianjin, China, and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention held in Toronto.

Although the WBPC, when held in Bismarck, tends to draw a larger crowd, the last year it was hosted in Regina was largely successful. The event sold out all 300 vendor booths, and total attendance approached 2,500 people. Regina, Saskatchewan, is home to 250,000 people and is the main metropolitan center for the surrounding region. Regina is perched atop the northern edge of Canada’s Bakken oilfields, making it the perfect location for this year’s conference.

If conference attendees are looking to unwind in the evenings, the city has numerous restaurants, outdoor cafes and bars with patios. Sacuta said, “Restaurants in the area have improved, perhaps as a result of the boom, similar to North Dakota. More restaurants with more interesting options have set up shop.” Regina also features the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Museum and the Mackenzie Art Gallery. Being a provincial capital, there tends to be a lot of artistic venues, including various theater companies.

To register for the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference and view the full schedule of events, visit the official website at wbpc.ca. The site also features information about the city such as where to find hotel accommodations, available transportation, restaurants and a general guide to the city of Regina.

This article was sponsored in part by the PTRC.


  1. Is there a special rate for Lawmakers & government officials?

  2. Carson Jr. Hood what u think

  3. Is there a discount for curious unemployed oil workers?

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