News Releases

New Horizons Oil & Gas Conference hosted by Mines
Release Date Friday, April 4, 2014
 South Dakota School of Mines & Technology students, from left to right, Derek Morris, Akash Jaggi, Ivana Stevanovic, Scott Anderson and Nicholas Cook learn about exploration for hydrocarbons on a field trip to Harding County, South Dakota, sponsored by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and Continental Resources Inc. The drill rig in the background is using horizontal drilling to explore for oil in the Ordovician Red River Formation at a depth of approximately 8,000 feet.

RAPID CITY, S.D. (April 4, 2014) – The 9th annual New Horizons Oil & Gas Conference will be hosted by the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology April 23-26, attracting geoscientists and related professionals from the Rocky Mountain region.

Many events are also open to the general public, including a guided day-long field trip to the geologic wonder of the “Paleozoic and Mesozoic Reservoir Rocks of the Southern Black Hills Uplift” and a number of educational sessions. The field trip, which will be led by Mines faculty researchers and experts from the South Dakota Geologic Survey, will be $100.

Topics of public sessions, which will be free of charge to the public, include:

  • “The Petroleum Industry and Regional Economic Development,” 1-3 p.m. Thursday, April 24. This session will feature Ben Snow, president, Rapid City Development Center; Matt Koch, vice president, U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Partnership to Fuel America; Brady Pelton, deputy director, North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties; Hunter Roberts, Energy Advisor to Governor, South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development; and President Heather Wilson, School of Mines.
  • “Hydraulic Fracking and Other Mysteries of the Oil and Gas Business,” 3:30-5 p.m. Thursday, April 24. This session will be chaired by Steve O’Rourke, past president of Exploration and Appraisal, BHP Billiton.
  • "Environmental Impacts of Petroleum Exploration and Production,” 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24. This presentation will feature Daniel Soeder of the Department of Energy. 

The conference focuses on oil and gas activities in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, especially as they affect the Williston, Powder River and Denver-Julesburg producing basins, the scenes of major petroleum exploration efforts resulting from new technologies. Rapid City is centrally located among these areas.

“The Black Hills are an ideal location for this petroleum conference. Rock layers which produce oil and in the surrounding areas are at the surface here. Geologists can walk up to an outcrop and see the material, which they have only viewed previously as small chips from a well bore, or as lines on a graph which measures electrical and other responses of the rock buried far beneath the surface,” said Alvis Lisenbee, professor emeritus with the School of Mines Department of Geology & Geological Engineering and one of the conference organizers.

“Also, the Hills are surrounded on the north (Williston), west (Powder River) and south (Denver-Julesburg) by the petroleum-producing basins. Although production of petroleum has been of limited extent in South Dakota to date, the Williston extends southward through at least half of our state. Interests by petroleum companies in this area appear to be increasing,” Lisenbee said.

Oil industry representatives from companies in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico will attend. Companies interested in exhibiting may still register. The cost is $150 for two days. Sponsorships are also available. To date, sponsors are Black Hills Natural Sciences Field Station, Joe and Josephine Kulik, Pure Earth Resources Inc.; Bake Hughes; Steve & Donna O’Rourke Family Trust, Yates Petroleum Corporation; RESPEC Consulting & Services, Dream Design International Inc. and CCREPPE.

All conference events will occur at the former National American University location near downtown at Fourth and Kansas City streets. For additional details and the full schedules, visit


About SDSM&T

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,640 students from 45 states and 37 countries, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The average starting salary for graduates is $62,400 with a 98 percent placement rate. Find us online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at