Bismarck firm hired to look at state's oil policies

Nov 1, 2013

A Legislative interim committee has chosen a Bismarck engineering firm to study oil industry impacts, production trends and tax policy.

KLJ was one of two companies competing for the contract. The other firm was New York-based Loius Berger .

The majority of the interim Energy Development and Transportation Committee said KLJ already works with North Dakota’s oil industry – so it has a leg up in the information gathering. But Sen. Connie Triplett (D-Grand Forks) pushed for the Berger firm. She told the Committee the oil industry has been pushing for lower taxes virtually every session since the boom.

"No matter what we do, they (the industry) will always be pushing for less," said Triplett. "We cannot make decisions in this state based simply on being pushed by the industry."

Triplett argued Berger would have more of a broader understanding about what's going on in the rest of the world.

"Having someone from the outside telling us what that perspective is, and bringing that perspective to us, would be really valuable," said Triplett.

Rep. Todd Porter (R-Mandan) says once infrastructure catches up with development, it may be wise to look at changing oil tax policy.

"We have to stay competitive," said Porter. "We may be forced to change the revenue side to be competitive, so the capital side wants to continue to invest into North Dakota, and into our shale play, instead of someone else's."

KLJ will be paid $125,000 for the study – which is due next August.