Firm provides a wide scope of development services to support growth in the Williston Basin.


As more oil companies move into the Bakken Shale and purchase or lease land for drilling, companies like Ames Engineering & Development Services are flourishing from the business.

“We provide expertise in several key areas related to civil engineering and development,” says Ames Engineering CEO Jeffrey Ames. “We provide clients with engineering, surveying, design and development services to realize their vision.”

Ames founded Ames Engineering in November 2013 after moving to Williston from Fargo, where his family operated a gravel and construction business.

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“Jeff, our principal P.E., Eric Kirby and I developed the idea that we could provide a unique offering of specialized services to industrial, commercial and residential businesses and clients in North Dakota,” says Chris Blackwell, business development director for Ames Engineering.

The company now has 12 direct employees and works with several subcontractors.

“We also have a remarkable group of strategic, collaborative and cooperative relationships with engineering, design and consulting professionals that broadens our range to provide services throughout the energy corridor nationally and even internationally, if necessary,” Blackwell says. “The Williston Basin is our primary area of business focus.”

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Services offered

Ames Engineering offers many services to those in the Williston Basin, including surveying, civil engineering, land planning, water and wastewater system design and construction, soils analysis, consulting, site evaluation and planning, and permit process management.

“Due to the extensive field experience of our principal, senior executives and engineers, and our strategic relationships, Ames Engineering is able to provide comprehensive or start-to-finish professional services,” Blackwell says.

The firm currently has two registered land surveyors on staff and two survey parties. “Land surveying is a critical element for all development in the Bakken, for legal as well as practical reasons,” Ames says.

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The oilfield-service clients and utility providers use Ames Engineering’s survey department for surveying and recording right-of-way, easements and as-built records, freshwater, salt water, crude and natural gas pipeline construction staking, well pad construction staking, and draining and erosion control.

“The business climate in North Dakota is such that there is no typical client for engineering services,” Blackwell says. “The Northern Plains are a place where business relationships are built upon a tradition of establishing trust.”

Customers and clients can be involved with anything from farming to housing development to oil production, Blackwell says.

“Our first objective in engaging with a new client is to initiate that process of building the trust necessary for a mutual successful partnership,” Blackwell says. “From this starting point we get to know and understand what our customer both wants and needs, their budget and schedule considerations, and how we can best help them be successful.”

Confidence in growth

The oil boom has allowed Ames Engineering to expand the business services and activity sectors while also adding key employees.

In August 2014 Ames hired Serena Christianson as marketing and public relations director; Cassie Klemetson as office manager; and Jacob Porter as a CADD technician. Two months later the company brought in Kevin Ralphs as project manager and Robert Wilson as a surveyor.

“We are also seeing a continued expansion of investment and business startup activity across all sectors that is creating both challenges for local communities and opportunities for those willing to pitch in and creatively address solving these challenges,” Blackwell says.

Ames says he is impressed with how far his company has come in such a short amount of time. “We have created a unique business model in that Ames is the focal point for all aspects of developing in the Bakken.”


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