The Roundup -

Economic Development Officials Have Presence During Williston Basin Petroleum Conference


Leslie Messer, left, and Katie Dasinger at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference. They attended the conference because of a grant from XTO Energy. (Submittted)

Positive news and positive attitudes are what Richland Economic Development officials heard while manning a booth at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference held in Bismarck near the end of May.

A grant from XTO Energy made it possible for Richland Economic Development to have a booth during the conference.

"We were so fortunate," Leslie Messer, executive director of Richland Economic Development, said. "XTO Energy made it possible for us."

Messer and project assistant Katie Dasinger represented Richland Economic Development at the conference. Messer said XTO Energy stepped up and provided grants for 15 other non-profits in the region to attend.

"It was an amazing experience," Messer said. "We feel blessed to have been able to be a part of it. It was energizing to go there because of the high caliber of speakers."

Receiving the most headlines was Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's speech to a crowd of 7,000 in the arena.

Messer said Trump noted the country is on the forefront of an oil revolution and the Bakken is in the middle of it. Trump also mentioned the importance of energy independence and decreasing EPA regulations.

Trump said where he will set the bar as president will be "is this good for the American worker?"

Another famous speaker was ESPN commentator and former collegiate football coach Lou Holtz.

Messer said the motivational speaker's message was very powerful and he was humble. Holtz told audience members to take the oil industry's downturn in stride.

"He advised the oil companies to weather the storm as leaders in the community," Messer said. "It was so awesome."

Messer said an idea mentioned by a number of oil leaders was the importance to have tax certainty and regulatory certainty.

"The message I heard was hang in there, it's coming back," Messer said regarding oil activity.

She also was interested to learn that $60 a barrel in today's economy is comparable to the $100 a barrel in 2014 and is now considered the new norm.

"That's because of technology advances in the industry," Messer said. "Although the slowdown is going on, technology is still cranking forward."


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