BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Booth space sold out in record time for an oil conference slated for later this year in Bismarck, organizers say.
North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness said more than 500 available booths for the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference were sold out in four minutes on Wednesday. About 800 people were waiting online to sign up, he said.
"Incredible," Ness said.
The expo is scheduled for May 20-22 at the Bismarck Civic Center, which is undergoing a $27 million expansion that is expected to be done in time for the oil conference.
The event will bring together engineers, geologists, investors, CEOs and government officials for seminars and networking.
The expo drew only a few hundred people until a few years ago. But now in its 22nd year, it has grown with the booming oil production in North Dakota, which has gone from the nation's ninth-biggest oil producer in 2006 to second, behind only Texas.
Ness' group, the state Department of Mineral Resources and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources are sponsoring the expo. The event has alternated in recent years at locations in North Dakota and Canada. Last year, it was in Saskatchewan.
The 2012 conference in Bismarck drew more than 4,000 people from 47 states and several countries. Officials are expecting an ever bigger turnout at this year's conference, which is expected to inject about $2 million into the city, said Lori Yantzer, a Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau spokeswoman.
Two years ago, organizers said hotels were booked in cities as far away as 100 miles for the event.
Yantzer said Bismarck has added 500 hotel rooms in the past two years and should be able to handle most visitors.
"There won't be as many people leaving this year," Yantzer said.