Energy Tour Day 3 – Exploring the Oil Fields

PointingThe oil fields are as packed as Lake Havasu during Spring Break. We began Day 3 sitting down for breakfast with half a dozen local Sidney attorneys. They provided an opportunity for students to find out what a rural law practice is like. In Sidney, your day can start with a DUI case and end negotiating an oil lease for a local land owner. Now that’s a diverse practice!

Just a hop, skip, and a step put us in North Dakota to tour an active fracking facility. Our first stop was to visit the drilling site, where they are drilling for oil that is more than 10,000 feet underground. It was quite a sight to see all the machinery that goes into an operation like this.

Fracking tourNext, we visited a treater station that was under construction. A treater is where they separate what is coming out of the well into water, oil, and gas. Here, oil is then sent to the transfer station, our next stop. The oil is moved onto rail for further processing with each car receiving 42 barrels of oil in 30 seconds! The tour we received was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as oil companies don’t typically allow people to see their facilities in such an intimate setting. All of our tour guides were very knowledgeable, friendly, and happy to answer our questions.

After a lunch in the bustling city of Williston, North Dakota, we continued our travels towards Miles City, Montana. Joined by two oil & gas attorneys from Crowley Fleck, we were educated with their practice. Oil & gas touches nearly every aspect of the law and all the essentials you learn in law school applies in one way or another to their daily work. Not only did we learn how diverse an oil & gas practice is, we were able to have an informal discussion which answered all of the questions that soon-to-be lawyers have.

Bus lectureWe arrived in Miles City just in time to check in to our hotel and grab some dinner. Reflecting on the day’s activities, we connected the practical aspect of drilling and processing oil & gas with the law that regulates both sides of the equation. Today’s activities undoubtedly helped all of us further understand the complexities that come with the law surrounding energy production and development. Tomorrow we will be exploring coal mining and energy generation, stay tuned!

Written by: Mike Pasque '16