As various 2017 year-end statistics are tallied and reported in the media, I was struck by an apparent “David versus Goliath” comparison that wasn’t what one might expect. In this particular case, it’d be our very own Bakken versus Hollywood, respectively.

According to Box Office Mojo, total 2017 U.S. box office receipts (popcorn not included) were about $11.1 billion. Up here in the Bakken, if you did a back-of-the-envelope calculation one would see 2017 Bakken wellhead “receipts” easily exceeded Hollywood’s vaunted domestic box office.

What’s that number look like? Assume that over the course of 2017 North Dakota oil production averaged 1 million barrels/day and use a price of $40/barrel on average and you get $14.6 billion for total wellhead sales — 30 percent greater than Tinseltown’s domestic take in 2017.

While a somewhat simplistic comparison, it should underscore how, over the course of the past decade, the Bakken has gone from a “wildcat wish” to a reality that transformed our prairie economy and all the broader opportunities that have made North Dakota a truly better place to live, work and raise a family.

Like the hardworking folks in other critical but cyclical North Dakota industries such as agriculture, the under-the-radar men and women who make the Bakken and our state’s truly “all of the above” energy policy work day in and day out should be commended for all they contribute to the economy, our communities and the better days ahead for all North Dakotans.

Assuming oil prices can stay around the current $55-60/bbl price range, expect some positive — for a change — budget “surprises” out of Bismarck as well as the new year unfolds.

John Zimmerman, Minot

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