Tioga-based Neset Consulting maintains strong relationships with UND and its graduates


David L. Dodds

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Tioga-based Neset Consulting maintains strong relationships with UND and its graduates

When the oil industry in North Dakota needs help finding the "sweet spot" in the quest to hit the next big oil and gas pocket, it calls on Neset Consulting Service (NCS) in Tioga, N.D., to get them there.

NCS, in turn, has enjoyed a strong relationship with UND, graduates from which comprise a big part of the company's geology/geo-steering teams, or "mudloggers," in the Bakken oil patch of western North Dakota.

"There are around 30 of our mudloggers who either attend, have attended, or graduated from UND," said Kathleen Neset, owner and CEO of NCS and a member of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education. "Nine of those are summer interns who also work on holiday breaks during the school year."

Since 1979, NCS has been providing experienced, top-quality well site geology/geo-steering services that have earned it a solid reputation throughout the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana, the Rocky Mountain region and beyond.

The company provides one- or two-person well site geology/geo-steering services backed by 24-hour support for the duration of the well site dig.

Geological guides

By definition, "geo-steering" is the process of drilling a borehole and adjusting its position — inclination and azimuth angles — on the fly to reach geological targets. The adjustments are based on geological information gathered while drilling.

NCS may be located in the heart of the North Dakota oil patch, but its mudloggers come from all over. The company has about 40 mudloggers who live in the Grand Forks area alone, and 20 more just across the border in Minnesota.

"When our mudloggers are called out to a location, they are provided a shack to stay in for the remainder of the well," Neset said. "While on location, they provide all of the geo-steering services, steering the well in the right path, catching samples at certain depths, and monitoring gas."

Neset said that her company's mudloggers also send one set of drill cuttings collected from all North Dakota oil wells to the Wilson M. Laird Core and Sample Library at UND.

"At the end of each well, the lead hand loggers are in charge of turning in full, detailed reports, logs and samples," she said.

In the past, UND has requested that NCS send a mudlogger to the Core and Sample Library to assist with research on the drill cuttings sent there.

Ramping up

Recently, UND has ramped up activity in the area of oil and gas research, as well as educational opportunities for tomorrow's petroleum engineers and oil industry geologists.

Much of this activity has centered on the UND College of Engineering and Mines, which in September celebrated a $14 million infusion to its geology and geological engineering research and education programs. The bulk of that funding came from oil magnate Harold Hamm ($5 million) and his company, Continental Resources, Inc. ($5 million).

The North Dakota Industrial Commission capped off the Hamm donation with $4 million dedicated to oil and gas research efforts.

The private and public partnership funding resulted in the formation of the "Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Engineering," which will head up many of UND's ongoing petroleum geology and related research and education initiatives.

"With the discovery of the world's largest oil field in more than 40 years, Continental Resources and North Dakota are changing the world," Hamm said. "The Bakken Play is one of the primary fields making North American energy independence a reality, releasing us from the grip of foreign oil and serving as a model for unconventional oil production worldwide. Establishing the School of Geology and Geological Engineering is a vital commitment to continuing North Dakota's national and global leadership in energy."

Booming interest

UND also launched a new petroleum engineering degree program and the Petroleum Research, Education, and Entrepreneurship Center of Excellence.

After the State Board of Higher Education approved the program in the spring of 2010, nine students enrolled the following fall. Two years later, the program is expecting to enroll nearly 100 students.

"We anticipate the classes that follow will likely have over 20 graduates each year," said Steve Benson, chair of the new Department of Petroleum Engineering. "Our faculty is increasing in size to meet the demands of the additional students."

"The creation of this new program continues UND's tradition as a world leader in energy-related education and research," said Hesham El-Rewini, dean of the College of Engineering and Mines. "It is one initiative of our strategic plan to ensure that UND remains at the forefront of developments in energy technologies."

Neset also likes what is happening at UND in the area of petroleum geology research and education.

"UND's Petroleum Engineering program is helping us to recruit contractors with degrees in this field," Neset said. "With the growth of Neset Consulting Service, having a degree is a big asset to getting a job. It also helps them have a better understanding of their job."

David Dodds

University Relations Writer/Editor

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