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Published September 27, 2013, 12:00 AM

ENERGY: Hundreds seek oil patch connections during annual meeting

North Dakota Petroleum Council gathering draws attendees from around the world

By: John Hageman, Prairie Business Magazine

Booths lined Grand Forks, N.D.’s Alerus Center arena floor Sept. 17, with tables covered in pens, coffee mugs and hats marked with companies’ logos. But perhaps the most prized commodities of all during the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s annual meeting, held Sept. 16-18, were business cards.

Companies ranging from Halliburton to Red Wing Shoes were on hand during the three-day event, along with public agencies such as the North Dakota Department of Transportation, as well as the University of North Dakota’s petroleum engineering department. Many business representatives said they were hoping for more visibility among others working in the oil patch.

And it seems many businesses recognize the event can yield results. NDPC President Ron Ness said the 350 booths for the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, another industry event, in May 2012 sold out in 17 minutes.

“And a lot of our members didn’t get booths,” Ness said. He said this is the first time an expo with attendee display booths has been held during the NDPC’s annual meeting.

Richard Warren, a sales manager for Winnipeg-based No-Spill Systems, said his company has seen more demand for its oil draining products from companies working in the oil patch. He said their products are used on drilling rigs, trucks and generators to service machinery lubrication more efficiently.

“The longer (the oil rigs) are down, the more it costs,” he said.

Warren said the company was recently in Dallas for a trucking convention, but said there’s much more opportunity for new business with North Dakota’s oil industry.

“Those are the guys who are looking for solutions like this to help save money and make more money,” he said.

Tapping the Industry

Oil and gas production had a $30.4 billion impact on North Dakota in 2011, up from $4.4 billion in 2005, according to a North Dakota State University study. Many companies are trying to tap business opportunities in the Bakken oil formation of western North Dakota.

Trinity Consultants, an air quality permitting and environmental firm based in Dallas with a Minneapolis office, is looking to gain a larger presence in western North Dakota, where it traditionally hasn’t done much business, said consultant Will Backus. “It’s nice to get our name out there.”

Others echoed that sentiment.

“It’s a visual representation for us, so they get familiar with us,” said Wayne Lagorin, president of Spartan Engineering Inc. “Even though we are based out of Tulsa and Denver, we do a lot of work up here.” PB

John Hageman

Reporter, Forum News Service

jhageman@gfherald.com

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