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Oct 20, 2011 9:25 PM by Jay Kohn - Q2 News

Business leaders learn about Bakken opportunities

BILLINGS - Thursday's Energy Hub Symposium at the Crowne Plaza Hotel drew an overflow crowd of more than 200 people, eager to learn more about the Bakken oil boom, and how they can position themselves to be part of the fastest growing economy in the nation.

Williston Economic Development director Tom Rolfstad told the gathering that Billings is perfectly situated to be the supply chain of wholesale materials needed to fuel the Bakken oil play.

He told the crowd, his impression is that "Billings Means Business", and the opportunities in the Bakken are there for the taking.

Those in attendance at the Big Sky Economic Development Corporation's annual meeting, represented nearly all facets of the local economy, from marketing, to insurance, to engineers.

Billings insurance agent Jeff Ouradnik with Frontier Insurance Solutions says he sees tremendous opportunities. "I'm planning to go see what kind of insurance we can write up there, from commercial business, to trucking, that's our interest right now," said Ouradnik.

Rick Leuthold, Chairman and Director of Business Development at Sanderson Stewart says there's enough business for everybody to get involved. His firm is already working with the city of Williston to design and build a 300-acre subdivision, an 800 acre industrial park, and dozens of other projects including water and sewer line expansion.

"A community of 15-20 thousand people could grow to 65-thousand within the next 10 to 15 years," said Leuthold. "All the services that a community needs, sustainable development, design and building an enduring community around what they already have in Williston," explained Leuthold.

Those at the symposium listened as Rolfstad outlined the long term outlook for the Bakken oil play. What separates the Bakken boom from past oil booms in the region, he said, is that there is no end in sight. Rolfstad says new drilling technologies have oil firms planning to drill for another 20 to 30 years, with each well producing for another 50 years.

Plus, all this new energy development requires energy itself. Rolfstad says right now the entire electrical grid in northwestern North Dakota and eastern Montana is being rebuilt, across miles and miles of rural countryside.

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