Since petroleum exploration and production became economically viable in the Bakken shale formation in the late 2000s, a steady stream of companies both large and small has beaten a trail to the state to set up shop, most in northwest North Dakota.
As extraction methods become more efficient, many companies have been posting healthy financial numbers and have a strong outlook for their future in the area.
Global integrated services giant Halliburton announced in December that it would build a $5 million facility on a 38-acre tract in Minot's Great Plains Energy Park.
Halliburton said in January that the company boasted a net income of $605 million in the fourth quarter of 2010, nearly a 250 percent increase over the same quarter in 2009 and an 11 percent boost from the third quarter of 2010.
The boosts came in large part because of the success of unconventional oil plays such as the Bakken. Deepwater activity in the Gulf of Mexico, normally a stalwart in oil companies' profiles, was suspended after the catastrophic pipeline failure in early 2010.
"I am very pleased with our 2010 results," said Dave Lesar, Halliburton's CEO, in a press release. "Beyond the dramatic recovery in the North American market, our performance reflects the successful execution of our strategy, and our commitment to deliver superior growth and improvement in activity in a number of international markets."
But in recent weeks, another wrinkle has developed in the world petroleum market as multiple governments in the Middle East and Africa face uncertainty, throwing the futures of several of the world's major oil producers into somewhat murky international political waters.
With oil prices already on the rise and gas prices climbing at the pump, the short-term effects are already being felt.
But according to an industry source, at least three companies with presences in North Dakota could be impacted by the strife in Libya, where a bloody uprising against the 42-year rule of dictator Moammar Gadhafi had reached its 10th day on Thursday.
The investment Web site Investment Underground pegged Continental Resources as potentially gaining significant stock value, while Halliburton, which Investment Underground said recently received new foreign contracts that have placed the company in Libya, among other politically sensitive areas.
Meanwhile, Continental stands to potentially be a big gainer, the site said.
"Operating on the Bakken Shelf in the vicinity of the Dakotas, you couldn't find much better political insulation," writer Scott Mathews said on the site. "With oil accounting for more than 70 percent of production (natural gas being the other component), it is positioned to get a secure boost if oil prices continue their ascent. In the realm of five-year predictions, Continental is looking at a healthy 20 percent growth in EPS."
According to Seeking Alpha, another industry site, Continental had 310 million barrels of oil in proven reserves as of mid-2010, with another 3.1 billion barrels in unbooked, unrisked reserve potential.
Continental announced Wednesday total production of 15.8 million barrels of oil equivalent for 2010, representing a 16 percent gain over production for 2009.
"We achieved our 2010 production target and again reported strong growth in oil-concentrated proved reserves," said Harold Hamm, Continental's CEO. "We're on track today for 30 percent production growth in 2011."