WATFORD CITY, N.D. - Community leaders from 20 counties across Western North Dakota were in Watford City Wednesday for the Annual North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties Meeting.
The slowdown might be in full effect, but the message for those living in Western North Dakota is the same.
“I think this downturn in oil prices has been fairly good for the west. It hasn’t been great for the state budget, but it has been good for the west to kind of recoup and get ready for the next wave,” says Vicky Steiner, Outgoing Executive Director.
Members gathered at the Rough Rider Center in Watford City to talk about an infrastructure study of six western cities. It will look at the needs of the cities and chart possible population growth based on oil prices.
“If you are going to have impact on things, you have to have the data to make your case. For these communities, the impact is real. Even with the downturn, the impact is real,” says Geoff Simon, Incoming Executive Director.
The association is happy with the progress western cities have made but some believe more still needs to be done.
“What is good now is we have been able to start growing some more of our single family homes in this area. That is what needs to happen next,” says Steiner.
Lynn Helms of the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division provided a county-by-county forecast of projected rigs, wells and industry-related jobs to county commissioners, auditors and local officials.
“If we can keep five to 10 rigs drilling in Williams County, just the sales tax generated off of those five to 10 rigs is a big income for the county,” says Wayne Aberle, Williams County Commissioner.
Legislators also spoke about funding they will be work on during next year’s session, and members voted to change the name of the group to Western Dakota Energy Association.