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A sell-out event, Montana Energy 2012, held in early April in Billings, brought participants from all over the nation. Speakers brought a combination of good economic news and bad news. Several speakers declared that the idea of "peak oil" is a myth. The winds for coal in Montana may shift as markets shift from the east to the west, which is better served by transportation. Coal development could also be brought to a halt by new regulations from President Obama. Denbury Resources plans to invest $2.5 billion to extract oil using carbon dioxide. The technology will recover more than 200 million barrels of oil. International oil expert Michael Economides said Montana is already a "superpower" in oil production. But, warned the National Chamber of Commerce, 40 new "major" additions to regulatory law in the US, could bring most energy development to a halt, and has already prompted the closure of some electric generators, which found compliance economically unfeasible. The regulations will impose billions of dollars in costs on Montana companies and agriculture. Numerous new companies involved in various kinds of business indicated plans to move to or open offices in Billings – if they already hadn't. (See more on Page 3)
Oasis Petroleum is an example of what a company can do because of the Williston Basin potential. Oasis Petroleum is looking at investing $1 billion in 2012 in the development of leases in the Bakken on the 300,000 acres that drives the company's inventory, according to Chairman and President of the Houston-based company, Thomas Nusz. The "amazing" thing is the company is only five years old, Nsuz told his audience at the Montana Energy 2012 conference in Billings, in early April.
The development of Otter Creek coal will produce a state economy that is "significantly larger, more prosperous, and more populous than would otherwise be the case," according to the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) in a study the University of Montana department did on behalf of the Montana Contractors Association.
Pat Barkey, BBER Director, told an audience at the Montana Energy 2012 conference that the study asks and answers the simple question, "How would the economies of Montana and its sub-regions react if Otter Creek coal development takes place?"
Not having the capacity needed to get oil out of the Bakken is already having an impact on the price paid for Bakken oil. In March the price was particularly depressed, according to the Oil Patch Hotline.
Montana is steadily forging to the front and will soon have oil "second to none," said William Whitsett, Executive Vice President of Devon Energy Corporation. "The big sky is the limit in what we see in Eastern Montana in terms of becoming an energy powerhouse," declared Whitsett, at the Montana Energy 2012 tradeshow in Billings, last week.
Montana is experiencing "a revolution in energy... in spite of some of the policy decisions being made," said Whitsett, a Montana native whose company, which is based in Oklahoma, is one of the largest in the nation involved in that revolution. "Even if the Montana Bakken turns out to be a fraction of North Dakota, we are still looking at huge energy potential in eastern Montana."
Outsourcing to Billings has become the solution for the Bakken boom. It's a solution that has been at least three years in the making, and holds the prospect to become even greater as the boom continues and moves westward, towards Billings.
One of the earliest participants in that trend was guest speaker at the Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative's annual meeting, last week.
In his presentation to Montana Energy 2012, Michael Economides told Montanans, "You are already a superpower in oil production. You have already defied the trends and once again showed the can-do attitude of this industry, smashing the myth of the 'peak oil'"
"You have redefined and defied the trends suggesting strongly the future of energy is oil and gas and not solar and wind," said Economides. Economides is professor at Cullen College of Engineering in Houston, consultant and author.
A Florida –based company with a unique water treatment service for oil and gas companies has announced an agreement with the Blackfeet Nation to be an exclusive provider on the 3000 square mile reservation in Montana.
The Big Sky Business Journal
P.O. Box 3262
Billings, MT 59103