On Special Assignment

Nov 12, 2012 1:06 PM by Beth Beechie - MTN News

Oil exploration growing in north-central Montana

GREAT FALLS - Oil exploration has been a big topic for economic discussions the last several years. Now the move is heading west into north-central Montana.

MTN reporter Beth Beechie goes on special assignment to see who is following this oil formation so close to home.

It's no surprise that oil companies are sprouting up rigs left and right. One Montana oil company is marking their spot in the Williston Basin all the while keeping an eye on north-central Montana and the Alberta Bakken, located along the Rocky Mountain Front.

"I think the biggest hurdle as a small company is to virtually drill your first Bakken well," Patrick Montalban, CEO of Mountainview Energy in Cut Bank, said.

Mountainview Energy is literally breaking ground in the growing oil business in the western part of the United States. But this company is mixing in with big players from all around the country to tap in to Bakken.

"We realized that, to become a significant company in the state of Montana and North Dakota, that we had to participate in the Williston Basin and the South Alberta Bakken," Montalban said.

He's no stranger to the oil and gas business; his father founded the discovery well south of Cut Bank.

"The well came in, flowing oil. And they thought they found a big discovery. Unfortunately when they went out a few days after the discovery, it was a dry hole," Montalban recalled.

Oil can be fickle and go can natural gas; Montalban's previous business with his father battled through bankruptcy and now with Mountainview he's embarking on the Bakken oil business thanks in large part to close friends and another family member.

"It was my son, our third generation in the oil and gas business actually, that had the idea, convinced myself and the management of this company that we needed to go into the Williston Basin and be a part of the Bakken Three Forks," Montalban said.

For Joseph Montalban, it wasn't exactly his plan to follow in the family footsteps.

"Got out of school with a marketing degree in 2008, which might have been the worst time to graduate from college. So rather than fight the job market, I decided to go home and work with dad."

Now Joseph says it's been a great move and basically lives the oil business life with is paying off for their company.

It recently went into a $75 million investment deal to begin drilling three new Bakken wells in North Dakota. And it's thanks in large part to Patrick Montalban's decades of experience and kinships he's made through the oil and gas business.

"One has to do with relationships my father has with Cart Stewart and the ability to acquire quality acreage which is difficult for small companies due to the high acreage cost," Joseph said.

Mountainview says none of these recent developments would've been possible without the rest of the Cut Bank staff. And with the money made from the three wells in North Dakota they say the next place they're looking to drill is in their backyard, in the Alberta Bakken.

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