Panel presents on Bakken challenges and opportunities

Basin Electric Senior Forecast Analyst Jay Lundstrom speaks during a panel discussion on challenges and opportunities in serving the Bakken.

A panel of people well-acquainted with oil activity in the Williston Basin discussed challenges and opportunities that come with serving the region’s rapidly-growing demand for energy during Basin Electric’s annual meeting Nov. 7 in Bismarck, ND.

Taking part on the panel were Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources; Jay Lundstrom, Basin Electric senior forecast analyst; Matthew Stoltz, Basin Electric manager of transmission services; and Upper Missouri G & T Electric Cooperative Manager Claire Vigesaa.

Western North Dakota’s rig count is currently at about 190, according to Helms. Those rigs could be drilling in the state for an entire generation, producing about 40,000 wells by about 2032 – up from about 8,000 current wells.

“This going to turn the world of oil and gas upside down,” Helms said of the Bakken shale formation. “It is changing the world as we know it. We’re seeing better and better results as time goes on.”

Among the challenges faced by Basin Electric and its members are the region’s rapidly-growing need for electricity, and ways to transport that energy throughout the region.

Lundstrom spoke of Basin Electric’s most recent load forecast for the Bakken, and how that forecast was confirmed by the recent study completed by KLJ.

Stoltz spoke of transmission issues Basin Electric and its members faced in the Williston Basin, and Basin Electric’s most recent project, to help alleviate those issues: a 190-mile 345-kilovolt line running from Antelope Valley Station near Beulah, ND, to a substation near Tioga, ND.

Vigesaa provided a picture of life in the Bakken. Upper Missouri serves much of the Williston Basin, and has seen a more than 40 percent growth in sales in 2012, “and our growth is going to continue,” he said.

“Until you’ve been there, you cannot believe it,” Vigesaa said.

Click here for video footage from the event.

For extra perspective:
One of Upper Missouri G&T’s member systems, Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative, has gone from 20 employees in 2009 to 32 employees in 2012, a 60-percent increase in employees over three years. Jason Brothen, general manager of Burke-Divide Electric, was tweeting throughout the annual meeting.

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