A few days ago I woke up in oil country. Williston, ND does not look the same as it did the last time I was there, circa 2004. Henry Bakken and his brother Harry are credited for the first well in what is now known as the Bakken Shale Formation way back in the 1951 near Tioga, ND. It wasn’t until 2008 that these reserves began to be fully utilized. It is said the Bakken reserve is the largest domestic discovery of oil since the Prudhoe Bay find in Alaska.
I find the history interesting, however that’s not why I’m writing this blog. I arrived in Williston in the early morning hours to find a Love’s filled 125%. I jackknifed into the only open spot. Since I was only pulling a 48′ wagon, I could position the back of the trailer on top of a snow drift. Apparently that’s why it was vacant. I’d estimate 95% of the big trucks parked there were oilfield tankers. When the sun came up and I eventually continued my eastward trek, I was absolutely amazed.
I have never encountered an area so entirely consumed by a single industry. For the next roughly 150 miles or so, it was oil wells, construction, and encampments for the workers. It looked like military compounds in some areas. Large equipment and 20 or more acres of barracks-looking housing. “Campgrounds” sprouted everywhere that served as additional housing. Thousands of people have flocked to oil country for six figure incomes and are willing to put up with nearly nonexistent housing.
Generally, I’m pleased to see an area thrive. It saddened me however to see an area that was by and large previously untouched, now under such widespread construction. 70% of westbound vehicles I met in some form or another were related to oil production (unscientific observation of course). The locals welcome the revenue but are also faced with gigantic infrastructure problems, significant increase in crime and a huge increase in their general cost of living.
If we look ahead 75 years, will this area resemble ghost towns of the old west after all the gold was extracted from the mines?
Thanks for reading! Remember…keep the rubber down and the antennas pointed up.
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