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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published August 08 2013

Quayle visit highlights company’s big-name board of directors; Lou Holtz to speak in GF in September

WATFORD CITY, N.D. – What do former vice president Dan Quayle, football analyst Lou Holtz and the movie producer for several Adam Sandler films have in common?

All serve on the board of directors for Nuverra Environmental Solutions, the company created by the multi-million dollar merger of Watford City-based Power Fuels and Heckmann Corp.

Quayle and several board members with impressive resumes toured North Dakota oilfield locations Wednesday before taking part in the company’s board of directors meeting.

“This country’s better off because of what’s going on right here,” Quayle said following a tour that included a stop at a drilling rig.

It was the first visit to the Bakken for the board members, who wanted to learn more about the company’s operations in North Dakota.

Nuverra CEO Mark Johnsrud, the Fargo native who bought Power Fuels and led it as it expanded rapidly during the oil boom, said he’s pleased that board members are committed to learning more about the operations, which include transporting drilling fluids and crude oil.

Johnsrud, who works from North Dakota as well as the company’s headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz., said he would like to host board members in the Bakken once a year.

“They’re so interested and fascinated, I think they’ll say we want to come back and see it again,” Johnsrud said.

Power Fuels grew from 40 employees in 2005 to more than 1,100 workers and seven locations at the time of the 2012 merger.

Dick Heckmann, executive chairman of the board, said many of Nuverra’s directors are original board members from Heckmann, a publicly traded environmental service company. That includes Quayle, who Heckmann says has “a rolodex that’s unbelievable if you ever need help,” and Holtz, who gives great motivational speeches to employees.

Each member of the board is there for a reason and brings a different type of expertise, including business and engineering backgrounds, Heckmann said.

Holtz, whose coaching resume includes Notre Dame and the New York Jets, had an ESPN appearance and wasn’t able to attend the tour, but he will be a featured speaker at the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s annual meeting in September in Grand Forks.

Quayle, who posed for photos with oilfield workers, said he was impressed to see the amount of traffic and activity.

“It’s good for North Dakota and it’s great for America. Those that say we can’t have energy independence ought to come here,” Quayle said.

Robert Simonds Jr., vice president of the board, has produced more than 30 films including several movies featuring Adam Sandler and Steve Martin. While walking around a drilling rig location, Simonds said he texted his office about the possibility of another movie.

“We’ve got to do another movie, focused around this stuff,” Simonds said.

Simonds, who said he produces movies for fun but his primary job is working on water issues, said board members want to stay current on what’s happening in the Bakken.

“The advancements the industry is making on all fronts on a monthly basis is staggering,” Simonds said.

Alfred Osborne Jr., a business professor and senior associate dean at the University of California, Los Angeles, said he was overwhelmed by the advanced technology and innovation in the oilfield.

“Seeing this has been really remarkable,” Osborne said.

Board members also visited a new oilfield landfill Nuverra acquired that will handle drill cuttings. Power Fuels focused primarily on liquids management.

Nuverra also is working with Halliburton on recycling of water used for hydraulic fracturing.