Kathy Neset: Making Her Mark in the Bakken and Beyond

Throughout the years, the Bakken has been home to many talented professionals and leaders. From working to accelerate the oil and gas industry in our region to creating extremely valuable businesses in Minot and beyond, we are lucky to have so many intelligent, driven, and caring individuals.

One of those individuals is Kathy Neset. To call Kathy’s resume impressive would be an understatement. Among other things, she is the founder of Neset Consulting. Based in Tioga, the company provides top-quality wellsite geologic and geosteering services, also engineering services, gas detection services, geologic mapping, and more. In addition to her leadership in geology and business, she currently serves on the boards of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve the North Dakota Petroleum Council, where she serves as its current chair, and she is a past chair of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education.

Kathy Neset is one of the most recognized leaders in the Bakken and one of its greatest ambassadors for the oil and gas industry with the general public, leaders, and the broader business and investment communities.

Playing a Large Part in the Bakken’s Growth 

From the late 1970s to today, Kathy has used her skills and talent to help oil and gas professionals in North Dakota. Yet her life did not have to proceed in this direction. In fact, in Kathy’s earlier years, she could not have imagined that she would someday be working as a geologist in the oil fields of North Dakota.

Kathy spent her earlier life in different parts of the country. She was born and raised in New Jersey and attended Brown University, where she eventually changed majors from mathematics to geology. What spurred this change was a great instructor and course in an elective geology course.

Before landing in North Dakota, Kathy held several types of jobs. She was everything from a substitute teacher and a mud engineer to becoming a wellsite geologist for Moore and Associates and then Pennzoil in 1980. It was her experience working in North Dakota’s Bull Moose Field that led her to her life’s work as an independent wellsite geologist.

Since the late 1970s, Kathy has made a significant impact in the City of Tioga and the State of North Dakota as a whole. She met her late husband Roy at her first well in North Dakota. Both Kathy and Roy started the precursor to Neset Consulting called Neset Enterprises. There, oil companies hired both Roy (a wellsite supervisor) and Kathy to offer their advice and insights on development in the region.

When drilling slowed in the 1980s and 1990s, Kathy continued her geology work and tended the family homestead, taught high school science, and served on the Tioga School Board. She kept busy throughout those years, but then allocated more attention to the oil and gas industry in the early 2000s. Then, oilfield work began to pick up and Kathy hired geologists and other individuals to help her fulfill the demand. With fracking becoming an increasingly important part of the Bakken’s future, Kathy used her knowledge and experience to assist her clients and spur development in the region.

Some of her most life-changing years were in the mid-2000s. Family and work called her for the first time, making her stop working in the oil fields. That does not mean the work stopped, however. She tapped into her entrepreneurial spirit and built out a team for Neset Consulting. She continued to be a renowned expert in oil and gas—both in North Dakota and throughout the entire world. She parlayed that experience and expertise into work with many other prominent organizations, including the North Dakota Petroleum Council, where she could share her geology expertise and help the Bakken grow.

Even today, Kathy believes that the Bakken is a multigenerational oil play. To this day, the Bakken’s geology is not fully understood. This is in terms of how much or what techniques can recover the most oil. Currently, oil and gas companies are only capturing around 14% of what is in the rock. The future is bright, and Kathy sees the potential to leverage her knowledge of geology to produce more oil from the Bakken.

Giving Back to Her Community

Achieving all that she has, Kathy could have simply kept to herself and enjoyed her success. As you can guess, she did not do this. She has used her kindness and giving-first mentality to improve her community including making a concerted effort to employ and mentor women that are interested in the oil and gas industry.

Working on an oil rig can sometimes be uncomfortable for women, but Kathy’s experience—and the precedent that she set—continue to benefit women today. For the life of the Bakken, Kathy has assigned females to mud logging crews. She also helped ensure that at least two women are on-site all the time.

Kathy recalls that when she first began working in the oil and gas industry, her parents were taken back by the rough and tumble nature of the industry. While the industry can still be difficult for some women, Kathy’s work has made a substantial difference for female oil and gas workers.

Related to her work with female workers in the oil and gas industry, Kathy addressed the lack of daycare in the community at large. This was an especially prevalent problem in the early 2010s as the Bakken shale play became known as a “boom” and thousands of workers and families flocked to North Dakota. The lack of daycare limited options for both spouses in a family to work, and this especially impacted employment outside the industry, leaving positions open for important community jobs such as teachers, emergency service workers, cashiers, and other workers.

Kathy still operates a daycare at her office today. Out of that effort, she was able to have both spouses work for her and have their children attend daycare at her facility. This pressing need for childcare was served by Kathy, letting families increase their income, contribute to the community’s success, and have the peace of mind that their children are safe and cared for during the day.

Seeing What’s Around the Corner and Taking Action

One of Kathy’s most admirable attributes is her foresight. She has an uncanny ability to see what is around the corner and understand the next action for her company and the industry. She works hard to make the Bakken a much better place for everyone and contributes to the greater good, lending her immense wisdom, for the betterment of the industry, western communities, and the whole of North Dakota.

Kathy’s contributions to the knowledge of the Bakken, and her numerous organizational roles she has tackled cannot be overstated. Those who know her and have worked with her will hold her in high regard as a true Bakken Backer, and one of the great voices in the oil & gas industry.