With energy production and exploration booming in the Bakken oil shale formation in eastern Montana, Senator Jon Tester wants to increase the number of flights to the region. Tester recently called on Gulfstream International Airlines, which already operates a limited number of flights to eastern Montana, to increase air service between Billings and communities like Glendive, Sidney, and Williston (N.D.), saying it’s the best way to fuel more economic growth.

The drive from Billings to Williston can take six hours and many flights to Glendive and Sidney are full, restricting access for Montana energy professionals who provide critical expertise for exploration efforts. Tester also told Bowman that workers in the Bakken often travel to Billings – Montana’s largest city – for health care, shopping or recreation, and encouraged him to consider Helena and other Montana communities for increased air service as well.

The Bakken formation, which underlies parts of Montana and North Dakota, produces about 135,000 barrels of oil per day. Production has risen 150 percent since 2005.

Tester’s letter to Gulfstream is available HERE.