28 Year Veteran of the Financial Services Industry, 12 Year Volunteer Business Mentor for SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), BA History & Political Science - Montana State University Bozeman, MBA University of Phoenix
New advances in precision horizontal drilling and multistage hydraulic fracturing in the Williston Basin of North Dakota (2005) has allowed the Bakken formation to become a world class technology oil play with nearly 100 percent of all new wells being productive. At present, North Dakota ranks fourth in the nation of oil producing states, but with the vast expanse of the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations and continually developing game changing technology, North Dakota is expected to surpass California and Alaska to become the second highest oil producing state; second only to Texas.
Regardless of which industry expert you follow or which estimate you believe, being able to pump somewhere between four and 24 billion barrels of oil out of the Bakken (located in western North Dakota, eastern Montana, and Canada (Manitoba and Saskatchewan) translates to a lot of economic opportunity. The four billion barrel estimate is up 25 times the 1995 projections according to an updated US Geological Survey.
If drilling continues as projected, the Bakken play will house more than 45,000 producing oil wells within the next two decades. The life expectancy of a Bakken well is 30 years or more. Each producing well will support one long term, direct job; however it can take up to 100 workers to drill and prepare a well for production. This dramatic demand for oil field workers has placed a significant strain on the infrastructure (roads, water and sewage systems) in western North Dakota. From the Bear Paw “man camp” near Williston, North Dakota, over 36,000 gallons of sewage is hauled daily to Minot, 126 miles away. This band-aid solution will continue until another treatment facility is completed.
Williston’s population has grown from less than 10,000 (2000 census) to over 20,000 in the past five years. Watford City has grown from @ 1,500 to over 5,000 within the past two years. Demand for housing exceeds temporary man camps and hotel accommodations; leaving some to sleep in their personal vehicles, in basements, in campers and in backyards. In some areas, the cost of housing and rental prices have more than doubled as demand exceeds supply. Williston estimates that they will need to build 1,500 housing units per year, just to stay five years behind.
The standing joke in “the patch” is that it’s the single largest growing population of homeless in America that are earning more than $100,000 per year. While that initially gets a chuckle; with harsh North Dakota winter weather conditions on the way, it becomes no laughing matter.
We are dedicated to coordinating ideas and resources among all that are involved in the Bakken Formation. We provide a platform where community leaders, government planners, and company representatives can discuss needs and solutions.
Cooperation produces a higher quality of life among residents of North Dakota and Montana and higher profitability for companies working in the area.