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Image: Zach Koppang / Energy Media Group

Get ready for a new North Dakota: Innovation in the Bakken

The Bakken oil boom of the west met the east on Monday at the historic Fargo Theater to kick off the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s annual meeting and to discuss the relationship between the oil patch and the Red River Valley.

Bits + Bytes, hosted by the Bakken Backers and the NDPC, offered the public an opportunity to learn about the basics of activity in the Bakken, how it has changed the face of its rural communities, as well as how tech companies based in the east are finding opportunities to expand and help facilitate the continued growth of the west.

North Dakota’s top oil regulator Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, was present to tell attendees how the state has approached, and how it will continue to, manage oil and gas activity in the west. He attested to the fact that while no longer in the boom phase, activity in the oil patch is far from being over as operators continue to improve working with what they’ve got.

Also present was Kathy Neset of Neset Consulting Services to explain just how exactly the process works and what has made the boom possible. She explained the basics of the basin, demonstrating the drilling process while explaining how it is performed responsibly. Finally, Gene Veeder with the McKenzie County Job Development Authority displayed how the face of a once sleepy town has changed as it prepares for a new life in the heart of the Bakken.

First, however, the public learned how technology companies based in Fargo and Grand Forks are building their businesses with the help of the energy industry. Each company discussed how this relationship is creating sustainable growth of the region with cutting edge functionality:

JDP Automation – Glen Mitzel

Now that the development stage of the Bakken has shifted to optimization and production, JDP is working to ensure that the systems set in place are sustainable. Recognizing that work sites are strewn across the region, and having personnel monitor sites that are miles apart is costly and time consuming, the company is working to automate and optimize data collection. By working to integrate Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, or SCADA, systems into well-sites, operators are able to control and automate production remotely.

Myriad Mobile – Jake Joraanstad, founder

With more well systems becoming automated, the team at Myriad is working to build the platforms that are able to work with the on-the-move nature of the oil field by creating mobile platforms which tie the well site systems to the operator’s data collection systems. By integrating mobile data collection with data centers, engineers are able to spend more time furthering the development of the oil field rather than spending their hours as overpaid secretaries.

AE2S – Jason Sanden

By using cloud based SCADA systems that can be integrated into mobile, PC, and laptop platforms, oil well or wastewater disposal monitoring, for example, can be performed and analyzed remotely. By employing these data management systems, workers are able to monitor items such as storage tank levels and injection pressures with provisions in place that send alarms and alerts to offsite locations if anything changes.

Altavian – Thomas Rambo, founder and COO

This commercial-grade unmanned aerial vehicles is transitioning from surveying agricultural plots to pipelines and proving the feasibility of using UAVs in the oil and gas industry. Its pilot program is showing how effective its aerial systems are at covering and inspecting huge swaths of land and relaying the massive amounts of data collected in a couple days’ time. By using UAVs, operators will be able to inspect infrastructure such as pipelines and well heads with high resolution, accuracy and in a timely fashion.


As the “internet of things” becomes more prevalent in everyday life, as well as in the oil fields, wireless and big data solutions are needed to ensure that focus can be placed on production research and development while achieving optimal efficiency.

“Get ready for a new North Dakota,” Helms told the crowd, continuing on to say that the industry will be around for generations to come. As the industry and the communities continue their development, it’s evident, as shown by the speakers and their activities, that the oil field is going to become a permanent fixture of North Dakota’s landscape, interconnected with the nation and the communities that are working toward preparing for a new, and more independent way of life.


  1. Does this make more work coming up

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