Oil companies say ‘thank you’ with cookfest

Kelli Pflug serves pitchfork fondue to Buddy Garren during the Bakken Rocks Cookfest in Ray, N.D. Employees of G3 operating, Go Wireline and Quinn Pumping teamed up to compete in the cooking contest, which attracted an estimated 2,000 community members. Amy Dalrymple/Forum Communications

RAY, N.D. – The oil industry threw a thank you party Tuesday for communities in the heart of oil development.

Thirteen teams with the Bakken Rocks Cookfest event prepared everything from ribs to jambalaya to banana pudding for residents from Ray and the surrounding communities.

Organizers estimated that as many as 2,000 people attended the free event.

The event is part of the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s Oil Can! initiative, which aims to get out into communities with oil activity and listen to residents, said President Ron Ness.

“We want to be part of the solution as an industry,” Ness said.

Another Bakken Rocks Cookfest will be held Thursday in Belfield, N.D.

Employees of G3 Operating, Go Wireline and Quinn Pumping teamed up to make pitchfork fondue.

The event creates an opportunity for those in the industry to get to know residents of the communities, said John Seil, one of the owners of Go Wireline.

“The industry is causing a lot of stress so it’s always nice to give something back,” Seil said.

Tom Wheeler, who farms northwest of Ray, said most residents only know the oil industry from the company trucks they see driving by. Community members appreciate having the opportunity to interact with those in the industry and ask questions, Wheeler said.

“It has a very positive effect on the community,” Wheeler said.

The afternoon featured educational presentations about drilling, geology and other aspects of oil development.

One of the topics on many people’s minds was pipelines.

“We need to get these pipelines in to get the trucks off the road,” said Merle Helland of Williston, N.D.

Jack Redmond, who has a ranch north of Tioga, N.D., said he’s concerned about the amount of flaring of natural gas he sees around his property.

“It’s almost a sin the way they’re flaring this gas,” Redmond said.

Betty Van Berkom of Powers Lake, N.D., said she attended the event to learn more about what precautions are in place to protect water and to understand how the drilling process works.

“It’s overwhelming,” she said. “You constantly have to educate yourself.”

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