Do What You Came Here To Do: Work

New Montana State Fund campaign urges Bakken workers to take personal responsibility for safety.

March 28, 2013 — In recent years, tens of thousands of workers have converged in the Bakken oil fields, drawn by the allure of high-paying jobs. But with these jobs can come injuries. That’s why Montana State Fund, the state’s largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance, is launching a campaign that urges employees and employers alike to take personal responsibility for workplace safety.

SafetyFestMT comes to Sidney

WHAT: Three-day safety conference offering workshops and classes to help employers and employees improve safety on the job.

WHO: SafetyFestMT is organized by Montana Department of Labor and Industry in partnership with WorkSafeMT.

WHEN: April 16-18, 2013

WHERE: Richland County Fairgrounds and the Montana State University Eastern Agricultural Research Center, Sidney, Montana



“People who come to the Bakken often give up a lot in pursuit of good jobs. We want them to remain safe in those jobs,” said Mary Boyle, communications specialist with Montana State Fund. “Our message on radio, billboards, gas pumps, and in bar and café restrooms is to remind folks to stay focused, ask questions if they don’t understand their job responsibilities, and look out for the well-being of the guy next to them.”

To be sure, workplace safety issues aren’t confined to the oil fields. More employees are injured in Montana than in almost every other state, and workers injured in Montana stay out of work an average of 23 days longer than workers in the rest of the country.

Even so, conditions in the Bakken can challenge even the most skilled worker. Marathon shifts with few days off can lead to exhaustion. A culture that celebrates toughness, speed and self-reliance sometimes fosters a tendency to lose focus, which leads to injuries. Some people may fear they will lose their jobs for speaking up or asking questions about safety.

While workplace injuries are always disruptive, they can be particularly hard on workers in the Bakken, many of whom come to the region from elsewhere, leaving their support networks of family and friends behind.

New workers are particularly susceptible to injury in the Bakken. Employees in Montana’s petroleum and supporting industries who suffer injuries have an average of two years’ experience on the job, compared to five years’ experience in all other industries across the state, according to data from Montana State Fund-insured employers.

On a positive note, MSF-insured injured employees in the petroleum and oil industries are off work an average of 13 weeks, compared to 31 weeks for all injured employees in all industries across the state. This statistic highlights how well employers in the petroleum industry help their employees return to work in a timely manner.

Research shows that safety-conscious workers are more accountable and, thus, more productive. Safety-focused companies are five times more likely to be in the top 20 percent of their respective industries on productivity, quality, efficiency and employee satisfaction, according to a study published in the June 2010 issue of EHS Today, a worker and workplace protection publication.

Boyle offers some specific tips for workers in the Bakken:

• Slow down and focus. Working 12- to 16-hour shifts, 21 days straight, can zap you. Speed and lack of focus in almost any job can lead to recklessness; and recklessness leads to injury.

• Take breaks at regular intervals. Stop and walk around or stretch out. It improves circulation and helps you refocus once you’re back on task.

• Stay healthy. Eat fruits and vegetables, stay in shape and limit alcohol intake during long stretches of consecutive work days. This will help you maintain focus — and keep your job.

• Sleep. Given housing conditions, sleeping isn’t always easy. But try to get eight quality hours. It will give you the energy you need to remain attentive during the longest days.

• Ask questions if you don’t understand how to operate a particular piece of equipment or if you don’t know what you’re being asked to do.

Montana workers, managers and employers are encouraged to attend the upcoming free SafetyFestMT event in Sidney, scheduled for April 16-18, 2013. Focused around workplace safety issues and training specific to oil field workers, this three-day event offers sessions including HAZWOPER refresher training, PEC Oil & Gas Basic Orientation safety awareness, and 10-hour OSHA courses on construction and general industry safety. Registration for the Sidney SafetyFestMT is now open at

Montanans can download posters and learn more about safety issues and tips relevant to working in the Bakken at


Montana State Fund is the leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance for Montana businesses and their employees. Through its safety and Return to Work programs, the organization works to improve the safety and well-being of all working Montanans.

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Click here & be heard by US Secretary John Kerry. … do it right now, it only takes 30-seconds.

Please approve the Keystone XL pipeline as quickly as possible. Every day we continue to delay this important piece of U.S. energy infrastructure inhibits our economic growth and weakens American security.

As a military veteran and a well-known supporter of military personnel, veterans and their families, you understand the importance of protecting our national security. Approving the Keystone XL pipeline would directly enhance America’s security, diminishing our dependence on unfriendly foreign oil states and strengthening our relationship with our next-door neighbor and longtime ally, Canada.

The full Keystone XL pipeline would bring in an additional 830,000 barrels of North American oil per day, reducing our need to import oil from places like the Middle East. With Keystone XL, our crude imports from Canada could reach 4 million barrels per day by 2020, twice the amount we now import from the Persian Gulf.

Canada will develop and market their oil reserves regardless of what we do about Keystone XL. It just makes sense to approve this pipeline and bring that fuel to the U.S., to grow our economy, provide jobs for our workers and power our businesses and homes. Americans have waited nearly five years for this pipeline to be approved and for America’s government to increase our energy security. After all the delays, it is time to act.

For almost three decades you exhibited strong leadership in the U.S. Senate. Bring that same leadership to the Department of State and approve the Keystone XL pipeline without delay.

The theme of the 2013 conference is New Energy Horizons.

When the very first Williston Basin Petroleum Conference was envisioned back in 1993, it was planned as a meeting where researchers and industry leaders could sit down and discuss the latest technologies and science to help improve oil production in North Dakota and Saskatchewan.  That first conference in Minot, North Dakota – spearheaded by Dr. Malcolm Wilson who at the time worked for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Industry and Mines, as well as colleagues across the border at the University of North Dakota – sent out 70 invitations.  Over 160 people showed up.

From the get-go, Wilson and the original planners knew they’d come across something big.

“What can you say when you get almost triple the number of people you initially invited to the first conference asking to attend?” notes Wilson, now the CEO of the Petroleum Technology Research Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan. “As the conferences progressed – and began to be managed by the North Dakota Petroleum Council, the Saskatchewan Geological Survey and the PTRC – they expanded to include more and more companies.  It developed a significant tradeshow component, but it’s been very important to keep the technical and scientific sessions expanding as well.”

The conference now alternates, in even and odd numbered years, between North Dakota and Saskatchewan respectively.  In 2012 over 4000 people registered and attended the Bismarck incarnation (no mean feat, for hotel owners and restaurants in a city of under 60,000) and the 2013 event in Regina is expected to attract around 2500 attendees.

The exponential increase in numbers at the conference speaks to the rise of Bakken exploration and development – a formation that contains often difficult-to-access but high quality oil.  The Bakken has become the backbone of the explosive growth in oil production in North Dakota and southern Saskatchewan, and holds enormous potential for additional growth in southwestern Manitoba and Eastern Montana.

What’s in the works for the 2013 conference, which runs April 30 to May 2nd at Regina’s Evraz Place?

“We’re excited by the technical presenters, and special guest speakers we have lined up for this year’s conference,” noted Melinda Yurkowski, assistant Chief Geologist at the Saskatchewan Geological Survey, the Government of Saskatchewan group that has been setting the technical program. “Aside from presentations on important emerging technologies, and  the latest in enhanced oil recovery happening in the Williston Basin, our first day of the technical sessions will also report on the latest news from industry and government players.”

To attend the presentations requires registering and paying a fee of 300.00 (this rate goes up on the day of the conference to 500.00, so register early!) but there are also a number of public presentations that don’t require conference registration and are open to everyone.  One of those, on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) hopes to provide all the basic information on the technologies employed in this process and discuss in a frank way what it’s all about.  The conference also has two special workshops planned for the conference delegates for a small extra fee – one on core sampling and a second on rock mechanics.  Check out the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference website below for more information.

The some 300 tradeshow booths have been sold out since January, and the tradeshow itself will highlight the best in oilfield technologies.  Special events, a host of receptions, and conference lunches with special-guest speakers will also be provided.

The conference runs April 30 to May 2nd at Evraz Place.  Visit for full information.

Travis Dewitz - Oil and Gas Industry Photographer -

Senate Tax heard Senate Bill 295, a bill to repeal the oil and gas “tax holiday” sponsored by Senator Christine Kaufmann (D-Helena) this morning.

Several turned out to testify in opposition of the measure which would kill the oil and gas production incentive passed by the legislature over a decade ago. The incentive, which lasts only the first 12-18 of production, was created to spur economic growth in Montana.

Proponents of SB 295 included the Montana Conservation Voters, Montana Environmental Information Center, and the Northern Plains Resource Council. The chief argument for the bill was that incentives are no longer necessary, and that production taxes are needed to cover the cost of production impacts. Opponents of the bill, however, believe that repealing the incentive would directly impact production and Montana’s economy.

“Exploration in the Bakken is occurring only because of the tax holiday,” said John Alke, opposing the bill on behalf of Fidelity Exploration and Production Company. Alke explained that wells across the border will produce three to four times the volume of those in Montana. “If you eliminate the tax holiday you will not affect the tax burden, but determine where companies will drill for oil.”

Testifying against the bill was Dave Galt for the Montana Petroleum Association who presented information showing a decline in recent production. Montana’s rig count is down to 12, representing a 31.6% drop since last year. Meanwhile, North Dakota’s rig count is more than 175 as of this week.

Also opposing SB 295 was the Montana Contractors Association, Northern Montana Oil & Gas Association, Montana Taxpayers Association, Montana Association of Oil, Gas & Coal Counties, the Montana Chamber of Commerce, and several oil and gas employers.

“Tax breaks exist to create jobs,” explained Nancy Schlepp of the Montana Taxpayers Association. Oil and gas projects have created nearly 30,000 jobs statewide, from Sidney to Kalispell, from oilfield employment, to construction, to retail and hospitality.

“These companies are generating a lot of tax dollars in a log of other ways,” said Webb Brown, President of the Montana Chamber of Commerce. Oil and gas companies paid more than 200 million last year in taxes to fund government programs and local schools, while property taxes paid by the Billings refineries represented one fourth of all property taxes paid in the city. Since 1999, when the production incentive was created, the state has collected over a billion dollars from oil and gas companies.

Bob Gilbert of the Montana Assoc. of Oil, Gas and Coal Counties presented impassioned testimony.  “Let us in Eastern Montana survive,” exclaimed Gilbert. “A skeptic would say this bill is designed to slow down or stop production of oil and gas in Montana; and I’m a skeptic.”

Retreived 3-5-2013. The Montana Petroleum Association, Inc.  A voluntary, non-profit trade association, serving a membership of oil and natural gas producers, gathering and pipeline companies, petroleum refiners, service providers and consultants.

Industrial and Agricultural Stock Photographer

BILLINGS – Area farmers and ranchers will learn how to save the family farm for the next generation at a farm and ranch meeting hosted by Rocky Mountain College, March 20, 2013, from 7:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon, in the Great Room of Prescott Hall.

“The speakers at this meeting are addressing issues that are very important to farmers and ranchers in Montana and Wyoming. The topics are relevant to our everyday lives,” said Sam’s Club Manager and landowner Cody Mitchell, who is also a sponsor for the event.

Dr. Marsha Goetting will speak about the legal implications of passing down the family farm or ranch. Dr. Goetting is a professor with the Montana State University Extension and an economics specialist. She has presented more than 800 workshops reaching more than 25,000 Montanans with her financial and estate planning information. Dr. Goetting has authored over 76 MontGuides and bulletins and has received national, regional, and state awards for her financial management and estate planning programs.

Andy Lohse, a 2008 RMC graduate, now working with RDO Equipment will address the technological advantages of using GPS in farm equipment; Darla Rhodes of the Billings Farm Services Agency will discuss the implications of the extension of the previous Farm Bill; and Carrie La Seur, an attorney with Baumstark Braaten, who will advise about handling land and mineral rights dealing with, but not limited to, the Bakken Oil Formation.

This event is organized by RMC’s Enactus Students In Free Enterprise. The cost for the event is $35 for those who register ahead of time, and $40 for registration at the door. To register, please visit the web site
Breakfast will be included, and there will be plenty of door prizes. Sponsors include: Sam’s Club, Rocky Mountain College, RDO Equipment, MasterLube, Town & Country, Grains of Montana, Shipton’s Big R, Scheels, and Montana Seed, Grain and Chemical.
For more information, email or call 406.633.5518.

Contact: Kimberly Ferguson, (Project Manager) / 406.633.5518 /

Bob McTeer, Contributor
A former Dallas Fed president, I cover the economy.

The direct way fracking can reduce the budget is by stimulating economic activity and thus tax revenues. This is obvious.

This piece is about another, less obvious, less intuitive, indirect way fracking can reduce the budget deficit. It is based on the fact that the sum of the budget deficit, the capital inflow to finance the trade deficit, and the difference between domestic saving and domestic investment equals zero. If you expand or shrink any of these three imbalances, it puts pressure on the others to expand or shrink to maintain the net zero balance.

As fracking expands domestic oil and gas production, it likely will reduce U.S. demand for energy imports and shrink our trade deficit. This reduces the net capital inflow required to finance the trade deficit. The reduced capital inflow will tend to reduce the gaps between domestic investment and saving and government expenditures and tax revenue—the deficit in question.

Let me back up and elaborate. Income minus consumption gives us saving, by definition. Income minus consumption also gives us investment, since investment represents output not consumed. Therefore, taking consumption out of the equation, total saving must equal total investment.

National saving is composed of personal saving, business saving, and government saving, i.e. an excess of tax revenue over expenditures. Personal saving, as we know, is low but positive these days. Business saving is moderately positive. However, net negative government saving (the budget deficit) overwhelms the others and make total national saving negative. Since we invest more than we save domestically, the saving deficit must be made up by importing foreign saving in the form of the capital inflow that finances the trade deficit. (See the postscript for a further explanation of this.

Therefore, I repeat, these three variables—the investment saving imbalance, the government spending-taxing imbalance and the inverse of the export-import imbalance are linked together (they total zero) and are mutually determined. Other things equal, the reduction in the trade deficit due to fracking will reduce imported capital and put pressure on investment relative to saving and government spending relative to taxing. At least some of the correction is likely to lead to a smaller budget deficit.

Got it?

P.S. In a closed economy with no government, income will adjust to make saving and investment equal in equilibrium. Introducing, government spending and taxing, the two injections into the income stream (other than consumption) will be investment and government spending while the two leakages will be saving and taxing. Therefore, the sum of the injections will equal the sum of the leakages in equilibrium, although there is no requirement for a separate balance of taxing and spending and saving and investment. Introducing foreign trade, exports become a third injection while imports become a third leakage. In equilibrium, investment plus government spending plus exports will equal saving plus taxes plus imports. In our recent past, the excess of government spending over taxes requires a net capital inflow (to finance the excess of imports over exports) to finance the excess of domestic investment over saving. If fracking reduces the excess of imports over exports the other two imbalances must adjust, thus putting downward pressure on the budget deficit.

Retrieved 3-4-2013. Forbes.

URTeC, 12-14 August 2013 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver