By BRYCE MARTIN | Pioneer Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Bowman County won’t be the next Williston or Watford City. That much is certain.
Though, Teran Doerr said nothing is ever “100 percent” certain when dealing with unpredictable energy exploration in North Dakota.
Doerr, executive director of the Bowman County Development Corp., joined Bowman City Commission President Lyn James in a one-on-one meeting with Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, two weeks ago for an update on the fate of oil coming back to Bowman County.
Proposed carbon dioxide (CO2) flooding by Denbury Resources Inc. throughout the Cedar Hills site south of Rhame was what attracted attention to southwestern North Dakota last year. That news started widespread discussion about oil heading back to Bowman County and the potential regional “boom” it could bring.
Denbury’s proposed timetable has since moved up by two years, according to Helms. That gives leaders of Bowman County and its communities two less years to institute necessary safeguards for the area to deal with a potential increase in population and need for services.
CO2 flooding is a phase in oil development to bring an area’s existing wells back into production. Carbon dioxide is injected into an oil reservoir in order to increase output when extracting oil. When a reservoir’s pressure is depleted through primary and secondary production, CO2 flooding can be an ideal tertiary recovery method, according to industry research.
Helms estimated that Bowman County could see about an 80 to 85 percent return of the county’s previous peak oil production, which was recorded in 2007, after Denbury floods the production fields.
Bowman County was at its peak oil production seven years ago, when Doerr first came to Bowman County.
“We definitely saw more transient workers. When I started working here, we got five calls a day looking for rentals,” Doerr said. “Things were good here; the economy was very good.”
This year, according to records provided by Helms, Bowman County had 92 drilling jobs, 170 gathering jobs, 1,120 production jobs, with 0.9 rigs and 509 wells. If predictions made by Helms and the Department of Mineral Resources are correct, the future proposed peak of production in Bowman County would be reached in 2026. At that point, there would be 552 drilling jobs, 20 gathering jobs, 2,443 production jobs, six rigs and 1,110 wells. Forecasts keep that flat until 2050, when predictions cease.
Reports proposed more than double the amount of production jobs, but Doerr said not all those workers would reside in Bowman County.
Still, the region will need to make changes.
“We’re definitely going to need more housing, more infrastructure, make sure our water and sewer can handle it,” Doerr said.
And it has been a continual process for Bowman for several years. The area’s needs are continually reiterated and discussed.
“We’re talking about those at our meetings,” Doerr said.
Doerr said it was also discussed that Bowman might want to revise some of the details in its massive comprehensive plan to ensure “it’s what we want it to be.”
“Based on these numbers, we are taking a look at how we can be prepared for this,” Doerr said. “We do think that we’ll see a gradual increase.”
But there are some people that don’t expect any “boom” to occur in Bowman, Doerr said. At the same time, some people are realistic and think that the area will see something along the lines of growth.
“And I think there’s some fear,” she added. “They want to protect what we have. And I think that’s what we’re trying to do.”