- Associated Press - Monday, May 26, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - About 4,500 people attended a three-day event in Bismarck highlighting the state’s booming oil patch, a record for the event.

Attendance at last week’s Williston Basin Petroleum Conference and Expo at the Bismarck Civic Center smashed the 2012 record of about 4,050.

“North Dakotans want to know about the Bakken” formation, North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness said.

So do people from around the world. They came from 48 states and countries as far as France, Norway and Nigeria, according to the council. The expo drew the likes of billionaire oilman Harold Hamm and radio and TV host Sean Hannity. It injected about $2.5 million into the local economy, according to Sheri Grossman, chief operating officer for the Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The expo drew only a few hundred people until a few years ago but has grown dramatically since oil companies cracked the Bakken shale formation and North Dakota went from being the ninth-biggest oil producer in 2006 to second, behind only Texas.

The Bakken stretches across North Dakota, Montana, and Canada’s Saskatchewan and Manitoba provinces. North Dakota and Saskatchewan sponsor the annual conference. Next year’s event is north of the border.

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