Power on The Prairie: Friends of Ag & Energy

6 mins read
Friends of Ag & Energy Logo

A new organization is making strides toward a more sustainable and integrated future for agriculture and energy in North Dakota. Friends of Ag & Energy, which launched in December of 2023, is a grassroots group that is dedicated to promoting neighborly conversations about North Dakota’s technologies that allow carbon sequestration and utilization to greatly enhance North Dakota’s energy and agriculture industries. I was able to connect with Kathleen Neset, a geologist with a deep-rooted passion for the energy sector, who serves as the chairperson of Friends of Ag & Energy. 

Meet Kathleen Neset, Geologist and Chairperson of Friends of Ag & Energy

Kathleen Neset Headshot
  • Kathleen Neset, Owner and President of NESET, provides engineering and geologic expertise to the oil industry. She received a bachelor’s degree in geology from Brown University, is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise National Council professional, and is an owner of a Woman Owned Small Business.
  • She recently completed a six-year term of service on the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and is the past chair of the North Dakota Petroleum Council and ND State Board of Higher Education.
  • Kathleen was a participant in the U.S. Army War College National Security Seminar and continues to present a seminar on Energy and National Security each year. 
  • Kathleen was inducted into the North Dakota Petroleum Council Hall of Fame, received the Williston Basin API Chapter Lifetime Achievement Award, and received the Virtuous Leadership Award from the University of Mary, Bismarck, ND.

With a vision to bridge the gap between the two, Neset and her team are working diligently to bring them together. Friends of Ag & Energy’s operations revolve around the principle that the agricultural and energy sectors are integral to North Dakota’s identity and prosperity. The organization believes in using unity and awareness to push both industries to new heights. By intertwining the goals and efforts of each sector, Friends of Ag & Energy aims to simultaneously uplift the agricultural community and introduce cleaner, more sustainable oil and gas production methods in North Dakota. 

At the heart of Friends of Ag & Energy’s objective is the desire to educate both the public and stakeholders about the realities and advancements within the oil, gas, and energy sectors across both North Dakota, as well as the neighboring regions. Neset and the rest of Friends of Ag & Energy advocate for dispelling myths and spreading factual information about the industry’s developments, especially in the realms of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) and enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

“My biggest goal is education. It’s all about getting the facts out there about what working in the oil and gas industry truly is,” Neset said. “What is happening in the world of carbon capture sequestration and utilization? Where are we going with enhanced oil recovery? What makes a barrel of oil cleaner and more valuable? We’re adding value to oil by engaging in both carbon capture utilization and storage. If we take different components of each industry and put them together, they can help strengthen one another.”

Furthermore, Neset added that North Dakota’s geological framework in western North Dakota provides plenty of storage to be utilized when sequestering carbon and increasing value, all while the agriculture industry is being enhanced. “It’s truly a win-win for everyone,” Neset said.

"Both who we are and our mission are right in the name. North Dakotans have to recognize that we're stronger together to take both the agriculture and energy industries to the next level."

"We welcome questions and comments on our website at AgEnergyFriends.com. We’ve had hundreds of questions submitted, and we answer every one of them on the website."

She highlights the unique geological framework of western North Dakota as a pivotal advantage for the mission, referring to it as what’s known as a “geologic jackpot” that offers a plethora of different formations that provide varying geologic opportunities, which assist in the sequestration of carbon and enhancement of the state’s oil value and gas outputs.

“There are multiple facets to it that are so valuable, and it’s been very well managed by Lynn Helms, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), and the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC), Neset said. “North Dakota not only has multiple layers of oil-bearing zones; it also has 19 different formations that have proven oil and gas bearing over the last 70-some years of production in North Dakota. The state also has rare earth elements present, coal production at the surface, as well as other formations that readily accept carbon dioxide in a liquid form underground, amongst other unique features.”

Neset stresses the importance of community engagement and open dialogue in overcoming challenges and advancing our energy and agriculture sectors together. Friends of Ag & Energy aims to provide a platform for honest discussions, enabling residents to make informed decisions about the future energy landscape. “North Dakota’s population has always been very wise and energy-savvy,” Neset said.

“We’ve been longtime participants in oil, gas, coal, wind, and solar for a while across North Dakota, but we have to continue forward together as a new frontier of carbon management comes to us. I tell people to make their own decisions; we just want the facts out there so that residents can make wise choices going forward. Our biggest challenge is getting communities together and having a platform for people to ask questions and get the truth out there. We want everyone to learn more about it together and make sure that we’re all working with facts over falsehoods.”

"We're meeting with landowners all around the state, and we encourage anyone with questions, supporters, opponents, and folks just trying to discern the facts to join us at these events. We believe in addition, rather than subtraction. Simple math and more conversations lead to a better understanding of the choices we face. Beginning in March, we will be doing multiple public town hall meetings that are open to the public."

Greener Oil: CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery 

As global energy demands continue to increase, energy producers aim to produce more and “greener” oil— that is, oil with a reduced carbon footprint—through a process called CO2-enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

Stages of Oil Production

  • Primary Recovery: The natural pressure of the reservoir pushes some of the oil to producing wells where pumps bring the oil to the surface.
  • Secondary Recovery (Water Flooding): Water injected into the reservoir increases pressure and pushes more oil into producing wells.
  • Tertiary Recovery (CO2 EOR): Injected CO2 mixes with oil and causes more of the oil to flow to the producing well.

"Come to our events. We're planning another series of events where we'll host open forums with people who agree and disagree from all sides of this issue and have a neighborly North Dakota conversation about them. You can agree or disagree with us, but we do have an opportunity to sign a petition that's online right now at AgEnergyFriends.com."

Friends of Ag & Energy aims to not only enhance the state’s energy and agricultural outputs but also to ensure a sustainable future for all North Dakotans. “I’m a firm believer that you must keep reinventing yourself, and we as a state must do the same thing,” Neset said. “Over the years, I think North Dakota has done very well with managing and promoting our natural resources, and I believe that Friends of Ag & Energy can continue exploring these operations.”

By leveraging North Dakota’s unique geological assets and promoting a unique relationship between the agriculture and energy sectors, Friends of Ag & Energy is poised to contribute significantly to the state’s sustainable development.

Friends of AG & Energy’s Core Beliefs

  • Pipelines are Safe: Pipelines are safe. We have over 30,000 miles of underground pipeline in North Dakota operating seamlessly every day. We have two CO2 pipelines in North Dakota that have operated safely and without incident for years.
  • Man-Made Carbon Provides Major Benefits: The management of a small percentage of man-made carbon will provide enormous benefits to North Dakota’s ag ethanol, oil and gas, and coal industries. Ultimately, the taxpayers of North Dakota will be the largest beneficiary. Our ag and energy sectors require huge capital investments. Thankfully, North Dakota has the geology that allows captured CO2 to be safely and permanently stored in rock layers about a mile deep. This technology has been proven during more than 40 years of field operations associated with oil production in Texas, 20 years in Saskatchewan, and 10 years in Minot. The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota has been a world-leading pioneer in testing this technology.
  • Importance of Private Property Rights: Private property rights are among our most important rights as citizens. It is gratifying to hear that 80% of landowners have heard robust debate about this project and have opted to allow their land to be utilized for the construction of this project. We respect the 20% who have not yet agreed to participate. We look forward to an opportunity to hear their concerns and offer solutions for their objections.
  • Respectful Debate: Our country was founded on robust and respectful debate, and we support that notion when it comes to issues that benefit North Dakota and continue our Ag & Energy industries’ prominence.

Friends of Ag & Energy

Friends of Ag & Energy Logo