During the recent spring flooding, Equinor’s regional manager for the Bakken office, Linda Pitman, got a call from not just one emergency management director about wells in the path of potential inundation, but two.
“When you get a call like that at 6 p.m. at night, it just shows you have built good relationships,” Pitman said.
The late-night call reflects on long-standing efforts Equinor employees have engaged to make the company what Northwestern North Dakota Community Foundation President Ward Koeser calls a good neighbor.
“It’s important that all companies are good neighbors,” he said. “If you think about what a good neighbor is, it’s someone you communicate with who can water the plants when you’re not there or pick up the mail and do other things to support you. Equinor is a good neighbor.”
Koeser gathered with Equinor officials Friday morning to award a donation of $7,500 each to the emergency managers in each of the counties where Equinor operates, Mountrail, McKenzie and Williams County.
“Our donation today is our demonstration of gratitude to you for what you do, and our desire to support your individual needs,” Pitman told them.
The donations came about after Williams County’s Emergency Management Director, Mike Smith, requested money for a project he is working on.
“We took that back and had some internal discussions,” Pitman said. “We felt like the right thing to do was to match that donation in all of the counties, because we really value the partnership and services you are able to provide for us any time the need arises.”
That need has arisen in the past, Pitman told the Williston Herald.
“That’s part of the reason I know the benefit of building strong relationships,” she said. “I have been in the situation where we did have to meet with them on site, and it was refreshing to already know who it was that was going to be there assisting, and not have that be the first time we ever met. It makes it easier to work as a unit if you know who you are going to be talking to.”
The emergency management directors weren’t sure yet what they would use the money for, but each said they have lists of priorities.
Office equipment and gas masks were among possibilities mentioned.
“It really does help,” Mountrail Emergency Management Director Warren Bogert said. “It takes a stress off us when you look at your priority list and you see, oh I have some money. Maybe I cannot get all of that one, but I can get this one done.”
“You make a list of things you want in what order in a perfect world,” McKenzie County Emergency Management board member Howdy Laular agreed. “But, if you can fill anything on the list, it’s always great.”
Bogert likened the grants to a tray of cookies brought by volunteers. There’s an instant lift to spirits and smiles.
“If a dozen chocolate chip cookies can do that for the guys, imagine what this does,” he said.
Both counties are contending with fires at saltwater disposal sites, and said they can attest to how important efforts like Equinor’s are.
“We are stronger as a unit than we are as individuals,” Bogert said.
Equinor, formerly Statoil, has been active in the region since 2012, and has a permanent office facility in the Bakken along U.S. Highway 2.
“The Bakken asset is very important to the Equinor portfolio,” Pitman said. “When we talk about where we are going to be investing and what we want to achieve, the focus area for goals, there is a heavy emphasis on how the Bakken asset achieving our independent goals is going to help the company achieve its overall goals as well. We are a strategic part of the portfolio.”