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Powering the future: Williston Basin Petroleum Conference

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Co-hosted by the Government of Saskatchewan, Government of North Dakota, North Dakota Petroleum Council and the Petroleum Technology Research Centre, the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference alternates between Saskatchewan and North Dakota each year.

The Williston Basin includes parts of Saskatchewan, North and South Dakota, Manitoba and Montana and the event itself attracts industry experts and leaders from across North America.

With a variety of speakers and an industry trade show, the event took place at the Delta Hotel in Regina, Saskatchewan and the opening ceremonies included a keynote address by Premier Scott Moe.

“We were very proud to host the 30th anniversary here this year, the Premier was there, Minister Jim Reiter, Regina mayor Sandra Masters and the CEOs from Cenovus, SaskPower, Arizona Lithium, and First Nations Power Authority CEO, Guy Lonechild, was there. We had a pretty good participation from the industry,” says the PTRC (Petroleum Technology Resource Centre) president, Ranjith Narayanasamy.

The booths were sold out. “We’re very proud of what Saskatchewan can offer,” continues Narayanasamy. “Sask has been a leader for many years in carbon capture utilization and storage, so we thought we would highlight that because it’s very important as the energy industry is moving forward. Everybody is looking at ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) so one way for the energy industry to reduce their emissions is carbon capture utilization and storage.”

The carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) course was a highlight of the conference. With more participants registering than expected, the decision was made to keep it smaller and more intense. There were other important pieces including informational sessions on the critical minerals that Saskatchewan has like lithium and helium. The PTRC also started a new geo-thermal initiative in the province, working on a couple of projects—one in Regina and one in Estevan.

There were plenty of local initiatives on display to the global audience. Participants in the course, and the show overall, included people from Manitoba, the United States, India, Korea, Global Emissions Canada, and oil companies.

Seeing people from all over at the show means a lot to the PTRC explains Narayanasamy. “Collaboration is very important. I was talking to a company from the United States and they’re willing to setup an office in Canada. They met with the mayor from Estevan and are having a conversation about cross border collaboration and cross border business opportunities.” That sort of interaction is made possible by events like this.

While there were clearly growing pains related to parking, utilities and a lot of room to grow to pre-covid capacities, the conference, speakers, and exhibitors seemed optimistic about the sector and the role the Williston Basin is going to play in global energy in the coming years. Another important aspect of the show was the NRCAN participation from Ottawa.

“This is a great economic boost for the city of Regina when you have people come and stay for three days, doing business here, and it’s not about just the industry, we’re also supporting the city. I want to thank Economic Development Regina and the Hotel Association of Regina. Hosting an event like this was very collaborative,” says Narayanasamy. “It’s a win-win-win for all sides to have this kind of conference in Saskatchewan. We’re an energy hub and having more of these events will help make Saskatchewan’s story stronger.”