2017 Williston Basin Petroleum Conference report brings optimism

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REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN - While there are a number of important seminars at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, one report reigns supreme. It explains why North Dakota and Saskatchewan are in good spirits.

It appears the worst is over in North Dakota's oil patch.

"In terms of activity, we're pretty excited of what we're seeing right now. We think that we really hit the low point in the slowdown in the first couple of quarters last year," said Shawn Wenko, Williston Economic Development director.

Drilling rigs in North Dakota and Saskatchewan are on the rise from last year.

"I'd say there's optimism for some continued growth. At the current prices, it's not going to get back to the level of activity it was two, three years ago," said Timothy Nesheim, North Dakota Geological Survey.

"We're starting to see some optimism. We're starting to see rigs move back into the field. We're certainly hopeful that 2017 will be a better year than we've had in the last couple," said Dustin Duncan, Saskatchewan minister of energy and resources.

But just because activity is increasing doesn't mean production will follow right away.

"We're going to stay kind of a roller coaster production ride where things are going to go up and down for daily oil production. At current prices, you would expect that to stay like that probably the next five to six months," said Nesheim.

This growth also could be stifled by the lack of available labor.

"Now, we're in a situation where the U.S. economy, nation wide is doing better, so pulling in new oilfield workers may be a challenge for growth in North Dakota moving forward," added Nesheim.

But locals are excited to see what this year will bring.

"I think we're looking forward to a very busy summer for us, and a summer that's going to have some nice activity," said Wenko.

After more than a year of struggle, there's reason for optimism.
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The Williston Basin Petroleum Conference wraps up tomorrow. Next year, it will be held in Bismarck.