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Viewpoint: Oil and natural gas industry continues to do great things in North Dakota

Most people assume that the economic impact of North Dakota’s oil and natural gas industry has been limited to western North Dakota but the benefits extend across the entire state.

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Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council. (Submitted photo)

For more than a decade, the oil and natural gas industry in North Dakota has helped build our state’s economy and create unprecedented opportunities for growth and progress. The oil and gas industry pays more than $2 billion a year to the state of North Dakota in production and extraction taxes. That figure doesn’t include the millions of dollars more we pay to the state in royalties, and what our companies and mineral owners pay in state income taxes and sales taxes. All in all, our industry accounts for 60% of all revenue the state of North Dakota collects every year.

Not bad, but the North Dakota oil and natural gas industry’s positive impact on the people of North Dakota doesn’t just end with taxes paid. The industry supports more than 50,000 jobs in nearly every sector of our state’s economy. Our companies have also donated millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours to causes across North Dakota.

Most people assume that the economic impact of North Dakota’s oil and natural gas industry has been limited to western North Dakota but our benefits extend across the entire state.

Take Grand Forks for example.

The state taxes generated by our industry were used to pay for the new UND School of Medicine and UND Law School buildings. Our state taxes also funded most of the new Grand Forks water treatment plant. And don’t forget the millions of dollars for street and road maintenance. In all, $457 million has flowed from the oil fields in western North Dakota to Grand Forks County over the last 10 years.


Our industry also does business with over a dozen local Grand Forks businesses and works closely with the UND EERC and the UAS industry on finding solutions to the challenges our industry faces, including ways to reduce our environmental footprint.

And we can’t forget the generosity of the oil and natural gas industry in any analysis of the impact on Grand Forks County. The UND Alumni Foundation reports that oil and natural gas related donations have topped $10 million to date and that doesn’t include the additional $10 million donated by Harold Hamm of Continental Resources to UND for the School of Geology and Geological Engineering.

Like most businesses, we are dealing with low prices and reduced demand due to the COVID-19 economic impact, but our future in North Dakota is bright. The oil and natural gas industry is one built on resilience and overcoming adversity, having weathered ups and downs, only to come out stronger. The Bakken remains a world-class oil and natural gas enterprise and our companies have invested billions into infrastructure to deliver that natural resource to our state and nation for decades to come. On behalf of our entire industry, we look forward to advancing the possibilities, now and in the future, in Grand Forks and across North Dakota.

Ron Ness is president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council.

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