Montana students fuel innovation in Bakken oil field - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Montana students fuel innovation in Bakken oil field

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BILLINGS - The oil industry is constantly evolving, and Montana students are helping fuel that change. 

It's been dubbed the American Energy Revolution, and companies like MicroSeismic Inc. are leading the charge. Peter Duncan is the CEO of MicroSeismic Inc., an oil field services company that provides real-time monitoring and mapping of hydraulic fracture operations. 

"Our technology could be likened to an ultrasound, so we are seeing with sound," said Duncan.

Duncan said Thursday that MircoSeismic's goal is helping to making oil production more efficient and ultimately more profitable.

"We actually can give the oil company and the operator a very precise image of where they have fractured the rock so it can help them go back in and make sure that they harvest every molecule of oil that they can for the least amount of money," said Duncan.

The new technology methods MicroSeismic utilize are raising the stakes, shifting the drilling landscape to a new level.

"Instead of the operator getting this information about how well he did two weeks after he completed the well, he can get it as he's pumping the well and he can respond right in real time," he said.

It's been said, in order to know where you're going, you have to know where you've been. That's where Montana Tech University and Professor Burt Todd come into play. 

Todd is the petroleum engineering head at the university. He said Thursday that when students graduate, they are prepared for a career in the oil field.

"We try to give them the basics, try to talk to them about how petroleum was done originally, and then show how the different challenges came along and sparked new technological innovation," said Todd.

With Montana in the midst of an energy revolution, innovation is being developed right in our backyard.

"Problem-solving skills, how do you define a problem, how do you evaluate the quality of the information you're getting, how do you see the details that somebody else missed," said Todd.

The students are the power houses behind the continued success in the oil field, and Todd is refining their skills.

"We give them hard stuff to do, we give them challenges and problems where maybe there is no answer," said Todd. "There's no benefit in knowing the answers to all the problems in the book, those problems have been solved. We need people who can go out there and solve the problems that have never been solved, have never been tackled before."

MicroSeismic Inc., is constantly looking to recruit, and they're finding employees at places like Montana Tech. 

"We're offering the chance to innovate," said Duncan. "When we go to do interviews with students they realize that MicroSeismic is a new and developing technology, and they get really excited about participating in the development of that technology."

As innovation  meets talent, it's a recipe for revolution, one that could keep the Bakken booming for years to come.

Duncan said that gains in technology could help the oil industry maintain economic efficiency, even during market fluctuation. 

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