Successful Turnout for the Third Annual "Bridging the Atlantic" B2B Seminar

Posted: Oct 05 2015
With over 60 attendees, this year's "Bridging the Atlantic" Business to Business Seminar covered hot topics in the energy and agriculture industries. The B2B was moderated by Dr. Jacek Mrozik, Dean of College of Business, Minot State University.

Chuck Barney, Mayor of Minot, opened the event followed by Sylvi Listhaug, Minister of Agriculture and Food, who thirdannualb2b15.jpgaccentuated the special synergy between the Midwest and Telemark. Another acknowledgement was given from Doug Goehring, the Agriculture Commissioner of ND. Mr. Goehring emphasized the importance of building and maintaining international relationships, the significance of connecting with the world through food, and highlighting that North Dakota has expanded trade from 63 countries to 83 countries.

The Mayor, Norwegian Minister, and Ag Commissioner all underlined the great benefits and opportunities for both sides of the Midwest-Telemark partnership.

Kent Evans, Williston Basin Manager for Statoil, was the first keynote speaker. With presence in 37 countries and approximately 67% owned by the Norwegian government, Statoil is the perfect example of international ties in the energy industry. Mr. Evans explained Statoil's strategy for maintaining competitiveness is to continue improvements in technology, engineering, efficiency, production in premium markets, and cost reductions. Statoil is the world leader of crude sales with core play in the Bakken, Eagle Ford, and Marcellus. Mr. Evans answered insightful questions regarding oil prices, where Statoil is headed, and the opportunity for tapping back into existing wells with new and innovative technology to recover more oil.

Lars Eirik Nicolaisen, Partner of Rystad Energy, shared oil forecasts and gave an in depth overview of the oil market. He explained how upstream factories are in high demand for reinvestments just to break even due to the industry changes in 2014. Mr. Nicolaisen elaborated that 2015 will see the largest E&P capital expenditure in 20 years. According to the IEA, the demand outlook in 2020 is $100/bbl. The Bakken has grown nearly equal to Norway in terms of liquids production. Mr. Nicolaisen clarified the top 5 assumptive mistakes made in the oil industry, explained the falsity, and highlighted Rystad Energy's approach.

"While we are waiting for better oil prices, let's talk about some fish farming," transitioned the B2B's third keynote speaker, Nils-Johan Tufte, CEO of OPD Group. Mr. Tufte acknowledged the wonderful visit with Minot's delegation during their trade mission to Norway where OPD Group hosted them for a breakfast meeting and a tour. With the first year of the Telemark Trade Office in Minot being a success, OPD Group is excited to have a relationship growing with Minot because there's a great opportunity for North Dakota in the fish farming industry. OPD Group works with PE pipelines to create innovative and customized fish farming equipment. Norway has had a tremendous amount of growth in fish farming, in 2015 alone Norway has exported about $4.5B of fish, making fish the third biggest export out of Norway after oil and gas. Mr. Tufte explained the different types of fish farming; land based fish farming, marine water fish cages, and fish cages off shore. North Dakota has a great opportunity with the marine water fish cages with closed systems that help protect against environmental issues. OPD Group recognized that fish farming will become more common due to the great advantages, cost benefit, and the ability to control the fish environment. Mr. Tufte's goal during the B2B was to educate the community on where the food industry is headed and to encourage North Dakota to work with the government for permits to fish farm.

In addition to fish farming, the B2B also shined a light on pulses and Minot's one of a kind expansion. Eric Bartsch, General Manager of AGT Foods, represented the world's number one exporter in lentils. AGT Foods (AGT) is the global leader in pulse, staple food, and food ingredient processing and distribution. AGT's philosophy is "From Producer to the World" and with only 13 years of operation AGT has achieved $1.4B in sales. AGT is headquartered in Saskatchewan, Canada and has 39 facilities in 6 key agricultural production origins on 5 different continents. Pulse and grain processing involving lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, milled durum wheat, and many other specialty crops are AGT's core along with trading and distribution. Their growing business sector is food ingredients and packaged food, located in Minot's facility. AGT's upcoming expansion in Minot will consist of two additional production lines and modification processes. Nutrition, health, change in consumers, and sustainability are all factors that have increased pulse demands. GMO ingredients, alternative flours, gluten-free food, and global ingredient protein market have also increased pulse demands and have transformed the food industry. Mr. Bartsch shared that Minot's expansion is unique for food, animal feed, and aquaculture. Consumers are changing the way they eat, they want to know and understand what's in their food. Pulse crops are shifting the food industry which is why United Nations declared 2016 the year of pulses.

Thor Sverre Minnesjord, CEO of Green Business Norway, was the final panelist at the B2B seminar. Green Business Norway was established in 2003 and is formed by businesses members offering proficiency, technology and solutions for the environmental and renewable energy sector. 75% of Green Business Norway is made of businesses who operate in the export market. Green Business Norway is a sustainable resource striving to recycle, reuse, and sustain the world. A few examples of their projects include:
  • Sludge management
  • Oil waste- separation and recycling
  • Organic fertilizer development
  • Bio-fertilizer plant
  • Marine Contracting
Green Business Norway has programs in Poland and the Gulf Region along with partnerships in Romania, Bulgaria, and China. Mr. Minnesjord acknowledged his presence at the B2B was to find a partnership in the Midwest.

As the "Bridging the Atlantic" Business to Business Seminar came to an end, Terje Riis Johansen, Mayor of Telemark, gave closing remarks. The Minot Area Development Corporation, Minot State University, City of Minot, Norsk Hostfest, and the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce graciously thanks our keynote speakers, Norwegian delegation, North Dakota leadership, and the Minot audience for participating in the annual international seminar.