The Williston Basin Petroleum Conference has its roots dated back to 1993, when Dr. Malcolm Wilson – then employed at the Saskatchewan Geological Survey – envisioned a one-day workshop in Regina on what was then a new and exciting oil field technology: horizontal drilling.
Horizontal drilling proved to be a key in opening up the Williston Basin to more expansive oil production throughout the 90s and into the next century. The conference remained fairly small and focused throughout this period, with a priority placed on technical presentations in the geological and petroleum service sectors. Run primarily by geologists in the Saskatchewan Geological Survey, these “Horizontal Well Workshops” were popular events that paired operators and service providers, academics and explorationists together to maximize the potential of this burgeoning technology.
In the mid-2000s, horizontal drilling combined with multi-stage fracking became the main topic of discussion. As a result, the conference began to grow in size and attendance. Spurred on by the ubiquity of the Bakken play, the conference was rebranded as the “Williston Basin Petroleum Conference” as the event took on new focus and expanded scope.
What was previously a modest but quality technical conference rapidly expanded into one of the largest petroleum conferences and trade shows in North America, with hosting of the event shared equally in alternating years between North Dakota and Saskatchewan.
The Saskatchewan version of the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference is now a standalone entity operating as a not-for-profit company managed by the Petroleum Technology Research Centre. This year’s event has expanded the focus to include a Business Conference, in addition to the annual Technical Program and Exhibition. The 2019 event includes an emphasis on heavy oil and CO2-EOR, in addition to tight oil research. The business program has panels on funding, regulations and a special session for young people seeking careers in the oil patch.