Tester: Increasing air service to Bakken will create jobs
Senator says current transportation options insufficient for booming oil region
(U.S. SENATE) – With energy production and exploration booming in the Bakken oil shale formation in eastern Montana, Senator Jon Tester wants to increase the number of flights to the region.
Tester recently called on Gulfstream International Airlines, which already operates a limited number of flights to eastern Montana, to increase air service between Billings and communities like Glendive, Sidney, and Williston (N.D.), saying it’s the best way to fuel more economic growth.
“Hardworking folks throughout the Bakken region are making unprecedented oil discoveries, creating good-paying jobs, and helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Tester wrote Gulfstream Vice President Mickey Bowman. “Accordingly, I urge you to work with community leaders in Billings and along the Bakken to find ways to increase air service so that these interlinked communities can continue to grow and create jobs.”
The drive from Billings to Williston can take six hours and many flights to Glendive and Sidney are full, restricting access for Montana energy professionals who provide critical expertise for exploration efforts.
Tester also told Bowman that workers in the Bakken often travel to Billings – Montana’s largest city – for health care, shopping or recreation, and encouraged him to consider Helena and other Montana communities for increased air service as well.
Tester supports greater development of the Bakken formation as a way to responsibly increase domestic oil production and move the United States toward energy independence. In September, he asked Halliburton to hire Montanans as it ramps up exploration in the region.
The Bakken formation, which underlies parts of Montana and North Dakota, produces about 135,000 barrels of oil per day. Production has risen 150 percent since 2005.
Tester’s letter to Gulfstream is available below and HERE.
December 15, 2011
Mickey Bowman, Vice President of Corporate Development
Gulfstream International Airlines
1100 Lee Wagener Blvd, Suite 201
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33315
Dear Mr. Bowman:
As you know, our country is witnessing an energy exploration boom throughout eastern Montana and North Dakota. Hardworking folks throughout the Bakken region are making unprecedented oil discoveries, creating good-paying jobs, and helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
Much of this economic activity is centered around Williston, North Dakota – far away from large cities like Billings, Montana. But there is a growing need along the Bakken for more opportunities to travel to and from Billings. Many of Billings’ experienced energy professionals play an increasingly critical role in the exploration efforts, and many of the workers along the Bakken seek the health care, recreation and other quality services and products one can find in Billings and Yellowstone County.
Unfortunately, current transportation options cannot meet the demand for travel between these two increasingly interlinked communities. The drive from Billings to places like Williston can often take six hours and is therefore impractical. Flights from Billings to eastern Montana cities like Glendive and Sidney are either full or limited.
Accordingly, I urge you to work with community leaders in Billings and along the Bakken to find ways to increase air service so that these interlinked communities can continue to grow and create jobs. Other communities in Montana, such as Helena, are also interested in increased flights and I urge you to work with them as well. However, in your efforts, I urge Gulfstream to continue to vigorously support Montana’s current Essential Air Service communities, which all rely heavily on your service.
I greatly appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to our continued work together to improve Montana’s economy.