The 2015 downturn didn’t break the Bakken. It made it, in part by forcing companies to get more efficient.

Oil prices have since improved and activity has picked up. But the drive for new efficiencies continues, and technology is helping make it happen. Optical sensors mounted on drones are now finding methane leaks from the air, while artificial intelligence devices are helping optimize rod pump functions.

That’s just two of the appetizing tidbits coming to the nation’s No. 2 shale play, and they are among the many cutting edge innovations that will be discussed during the annual Bakken Conference and Expo, set for July 16 and 17 at the Bismarck Event Center in Bismarck.

The Williston Herald will provide full coverage of the event sponsored by North American Shale Magazine, which will feature more than 30 speakers and insights from oilfield executives with companies like Hess, Baker Hughes, XTO, Whiting, Schlumberger, and more.

Keynoting the event will be Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, talking about the state of the Bakken. Sanford’s keynote will be followed by a panel discussion that includes Marathon Oil and Oasis Petroleum, and others discussing industry-led efforts to solve some of the big problems in the Bakken.

Skyskopes, meanwhile, will talk about its work with drones in the Bakken. The company was recently recognized nationally as among the top five drone companies in the U.S., based on its successes in the Oil Patch.

Ambyint’s Director of Optimization, Brian Arnst, will talk about its work with artificial intelligence in the Oil Field for Equinor, and Crusoe Energy’s Cully Cavness will talk about its mobile, modular data centers that can be placed at or near well sites to be powered by gas that might otherwise be flared.

That’s just a few of the many topics on tap at the Bakken Conference and Expo, which operating producers, active drilling companies and completion companies may attend free of charge. Others pay a fee of $645, although there are discounts for various groups such as students and government officials. One-day admission is also available for $399.

Other topics during the two-day event include Blockchain technology and the shale field, resource recovery and reuse options for Bakken water and sand, changing regulations and their impact on the Bakken, what investors need to know about investing in the Bakken, and more.

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