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WSJ: Oil Booms in North Dakota

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Wow. That's impressive. When my dad was growing up, Columbus was considered a bigger town. It will be interesting to see if the potash mining comes to fruition. It could be a boom for Bowbells, Lignite, and Columbus.

Were you using Bowbells as the comparison town?

The population decline of Burke County is absolutely incredible: 10,000 people in 1930 and less than 2000 in 2010. Burke County had 1/3rd of the population of Cass County in 1930 and now it has 1/75th the population.

Burke County is now mostly Senior Citizens (average age of Columbus was 57 by census data), so another decade without development of some kind, and Burke County would have been just one huge bonanza farm with a nursing home.

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Were you using Bowbells as the comparison town?

The population decline of Burke County is absolutely incredible: 10,000 people in 1930 and less than 2000 in 2010. Burke County had 1/3rd of the population of Cass County in 1930 and now it has 1/75th the population.

Burke County is now mostly Senior Citizens (average age of Columbus was 57 by census data), so another decade without development of some kind, and Burke County would have been just one huge bonanza farm with a nursing home.

Not really using Bowbells as a comparison, I just know that's where they played the Class C District Tournament for Northwest ND back in the day, and it was sort of a regional center just because of all the coal activity. You're right, the situation in Burke County is dire. The school in Bowbells can't possibly hold on for much longer, and the numbers for Burke Central in Lignite are in the 10-14 kids/class range. The Annabelle Homes project looks impressive, but even if there's jobs in the area I would expect most people to commute from Kenmare and Crosby, even in this day of high gas prices.

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Will Minot ever pass GF as the 3rd largest city in ND?

linky

The 1997 flood really slowed Grand Forks down and now they are playing catch up. Plus the GFAFB downsized so that added to GF's so-called stall on its population rise in the 2010 census. But if UND can continue to grow and we actually get "HIGH" paying jobs around GF or even the state for that matter then I can see GF keeping its #3 ranking. They do have the flood problem under control, which is now something new to Minot. Could be a toss-up in the 2020 or 2030 census.

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The Independent (London): There Will Be Bucks in the Town that Struck Black Gold

It barely matters that the view from the motel patio is a building site where a new Holiday Inn will soon rise. It's Richard Seeley's night off, chunks of boneless pork are spitting on the gas grill and the beer is good and cold. And he knows that before dawn he'll be back on the job again. Thousands of miles from home, Seeley is here for one thing only: the black juice underground that is catapulting western North Dakota out of the stereotype of lonely, broken-down farms and empty ghost-towns into a land of plenty that is soon to join the ranks of the top oil-producing territories of the world. It is a process that is bestowing great wealth on a few North Dakotans whose forebears, mostly immigrants from Scandinavia, homesteaded on unforgiving land here and whose own children held on to their sub-surface mineral lease rights even during the grinding times of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.

"Williston is the modern day gold rush town," says Seeley, who leads a "fracking" team, the name of a new and controversial drilling technology that uses pressured liquids to blast oil out of the vast table-top layer of rock 10,000 feet deep, known as the Bakken formation, that stretches into neighbouring Montana and Saskatchewan. "If you ever wanted to go back in time to the 1800s in California, this is it."

A Williston of 60,000 people?

Nobody sees the tumult more clearly than Tom Rolfstad, the director of economic development for Williston. If his title once implied working to stimulate business activity in his town, today it might mean doing everything possible to stop Williston from blowing up from the pressure of having too much of it.

His office in City Hall has maps on every wall with projections for growing Williston to cope with its accelerating population influx. "No one thinks that this town isn't set to double in size, but we could be talking about triple or quadruple," he ventures, describing plans to push out the town's sewerage, water and utility lines as well as roads and residential subdivisions.

"If this was happening over maybe a 30-year period, it might be manageable," says Rolfstad. He notes that 2,100 new wells are being drilled a year and each one needs four miles of pipe. That means shipping 8,400 miles of pipe to this part of the state every 12 months. "What we are trying to do here essentially is build a new industrial subdivision that is the size of some small states," he says. "It's mind-boggling."

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WSJ: US on verge of Industrial Renaissance because of shale boom

The U.S. is on the verge of an industrial renaissance if—and it's a big if—policy makers don't foul it up by restricting the ability of drillers to use the technology that's making a renaissance possible: hydraulic fracturing.

...

Despite the opposition, some of America's biggest industrial companies are evangelizing about the merits of natural gas. Among the most fervent advocates are John Surma, the CEO of U.S. Steel, and Dan DiMicco, the CEO of Nucor. Mr. Surma told me in an interview that the shale revolution is "the first bit of good news in U.S. manufacturing in two decades." Mr. DiMicco went further, telling me that "we could change the entire manufacturing base in the U.S. if we just embrace what's happening in natural gas."

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It would be nice to see the tax money the state can collect from all this. Distribute some to all ND residents. Perhaps Native North Dakotans get a percentage more than Transplants.

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Great Plains Examiner: Can oil save my hometown?

Forbes: North Dakota added 60,000 jobs in decade

The state added 17,755 jobs from 2008 to 2010, more than two-thirds of which were filled by workers from elsewhere. They came from every state in the nation, led by neighboring Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota, Job Service records showed.

Large influxes of workers also have come from states with similar climates and geographies as North Dakota, such as Wisconsin, Idaho and Michigan, Ziesch said. Residents from states with strong energy sectors such as Texas, Wyoming and Colorado also have flocked to North Dakota to fill jobs, he said.

In May, the state had the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 3 percent and tallied 15,205 unfilled jobs, Ziesch said. About a third of the job openings were in the state's 17 oil-producing counties, he said.

Rig count expected to be 290 late this year (178 now) x 80 jobs / rig = 9000 more jobs by end of year of temporary nature (some of these are in Montana)

At least 2000 new oil wells this year x 8 jobs / oil well (long term local impact while wells are operating) = 16,000 new potential longer-term jobs just this year

Impact over next 15-20 years, while wells are operating:

25,000 more oil wells to be drilled x 8 jobs / oil well (long term local impact ) = 200,000 more jobs in 15 - 20 years if the "8" multiplier is correct.

A Montana business paper was projecting Williston's population to be 100,000 sometime next decade.

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This is going to keep growing.. UND needs to keep expanding the petroleum engineering and geologic engineering programs.

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So is it possible to see more people living out west than out east? Could cities like Bismarck, Minot, Williston, and Dickinson outgrow Fargo, Grand Forks, West Fargo?

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So is it possible to see more people living out west than out east? Could cities like Bismarck, Minot, Williston, and Dickinson outgrow Fargo, Grand Forks, West Fargo?

The so called experts have been talking for the last 30 years that Bismarck would surpass Fargo. The spread today is wider then it was back in 1980. I doubt that even the oil boom can get Bismarck bigger then Fargo, or Minot larger then Grand Forks. The cities in the east just have too much going for them, plus a much higher population density in a 75 mile radius. Go 75 miles away from Bismarck or Minot and there is nothing, and I mean nothing.

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So is it possible to see more people living out west than out east? Could cities like Bismarck, Minot, Williston, and Dickinson outgrow Fargo, Grand Forks, West Fargo?

I'm from the west side of the state (Minot). I cant tell you what Williston is like but I'm sure it is nuts. Minot is obviously hurting from the flood but I can't imagine them not recovering. One silver lining to the Minot disaster is that the town is growing towards the south like a weed. All of the new housing and infrastructure that has been developed over the last couple years was well out of the way of the food. My parents back in Minot are currently building a new home on the south side of Minot and I can tell you first hand that the housing market in Minot before the flood was absolutely ridiculous. I've heard if you want to build a new house in Minot there was a waiting list of over a year before the constuction companies could get to it. My parents new house is in an area that has something like 500 new houses going up and that is just one of the areas going up, everywhere you look in every direction has houses staked out and they just keep building block by block.

Now to your question. I don't think any city is going to be catching up to Fargo. That being said it is inevitable that the west will have a much higher population level than the east withing the next 10-20 years.

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The so called experts have been talking for the last 30 years that Bismarck would surpass Fargo. The spread today is wider then it was back in 1980. I doubt that even the oil boom can get Bismarck bigger then Fargo, or Minot larger then Grand Forks. The cities in the east just have too much going for them, plus a much higher population density in a 75 mile radius. Go 75 miles away from Bismarck or Minot and there is nothing, and I mean nothing.

This is simply not true. When was the last time you went out west? I graduated from Minot High in 07 and the population was estimated around 36-38,000. The 2010 census showed Minot at 40,888, then in 2011 the Minot Development Corporation held another census that estimated the city at almost 46,000. In comparison Grand Forks 2010 census estimated the cities population at 52,838. The 2010 census showed Ward county had a population of 61,675 while Grand Forks county was at 66,861. I guarantee ward county is already bigger than Grand Forks county.

You also have to take into account that the oil boom isn't just affecting the larger cities. You have small towns like Stanley, Tioga esc esc that are seeing significant growth as well. Larger towns are getting bigger, smaller towns are becoming medium sized towns. In fact, outside of Fargo, the east doesn't compare to the west as far as growth and economic opportunities. Not even close.

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This is simply not true. When was the last time you went out west? I graduated from Minot High in 07 and the population was estimated around 36-38,000. The 2010 census showed Minot at 40,888, then in 2011 the Minot Development Corporation held another census that estimated the city at almost 46,000. In comparison Grand Forks 2010 census estimated the cities population at 52,838. The 2010 census showed Ward county had a population of 61,675 while Grand Forks county was at 66,861. I guarantee ward county is already bigger than Grand Forks county.

You also have to take into account that the oil boom isn't just affecting the larger cities. You have small towns like Stanley, Tioga esc esc that are seeing significant growth as well. Larger towns are getting bigger, smaller towns are becoming medium sized towns. In fact, outside of Fargo, the east doesn't compare to the west as far as growth and economic opportunities. Not even close.

The only reason to move to a small town in the east is to get away from the high tax base of Fargo or Grand Forks. Unlike the small towns out west where people are flocking too to find housing, people aren't flocking to the small farm towns in the east, plus flooding all over the east is killing these small towns.

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You also have to take into account that the oil boom isn't just affecting the larger cities. You have small towns like Stanley, Tioga esc esc that are seeing significant growth as well. Larger towns are getting bigger, smaller towns are becoming medium sized towns. In fact, outside of Fargo, the east doesn't compare to the west as far as growth and economic opportunities. Not even close.

The influx of people into western ND has been crazy, there are literally no places to rent in any town regardless of size between Minot, Williston, Sidney, and Dickinson. I heard in the last few days they are going to set up another 'man-camp' somewhere in the oilfield area for 1200 people, most of those guys work 14 on and 14 off so they could house another 2400 people there, but that's just scratching the problem...there are people driving here from the western part of Montana 400+ miles and renting a room or apt., and then driving to work everyday another 150+ miles one way because it's the closest place they can get a real room.

If this keeps going like it is the next census in western ND is going to blow peoples minds.

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Ohio and Pennsylvania were the two of the original "oil" states. Looks like Ohio will again become a major energy producer. The Utica formation under much of eastern Ohio has more gas and liquids than the best new field in Texas (Eagle Ford).

Oil and Gas Journal: Massive gas/liquids find in Ohio confirmed

In what some may see as most compelling about the report is the direct comparison to the much publicized Eagle Ford Shale. The company believes the Utica Shale “will be characterized by a western oil phase, a central wet gas phase and an eastern dry gas phase and is likely most analogous, but economically superior to, the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas.”

shale-ohio.jpeg

Columbus Dispatch: Massive find confirmed

"This is huge news for Ohioans, and I'm simply thrilled to hear it," the governor said in a statement. "I'm especially glad that this can mean a shot in the arm for eastern Ohio."

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I've recently seen the award winning documentary "Gasland" and am convinced that we need install tight regulation and oversight on companies trying to harvest natural gas from these shale formations.

Naive question: is there any way to harvest these shale bounties without fracking?

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I've recently seen the award winning documentary "Gasland" and am convinced that we need install tight regulation and oversight on companies trying to harvest natural gas from these shale formations.

Naive question: is there any way to harvest these shale bounties without fracking?

Ever heard of Teapot Dome, in Wyoming, where natural gas and oil were discovered precisely because the oil and gas were seeping into the groundwater - naturally? That's how almost all the oil and natural gas discoveries were first made in the 1800's.

If a documentary was ever made on the tens of thousands of birds killed by wind turbines, the public would protest wind turbines as mass killing machines. That is a much more sensible and justifiable cause.

"Gasland "is just a propaganda film intended to terrorize a gullible public into killing an industry that actually has a chance to bring the US energy independence. Fracking happens thousands of feet underground. In the case of Bakken 7 -10000 feet. In the case of Utica, 10 -15,000 feet. There has never been evidence anywhere that fracking itself has caused groundwater contamination. Drilling of any conventional oil or gas or even water wells or wastewater disposal wells, has as much likelihood of contaminating groundwater, because those wells pierce groundwater aquifers. If the casing is improperly installed in the vertical section of a well, any well can create issues.

(Though fracking has been around since the 1940s, the technique has become controversial lately, particularly among East Coast environmentalists who fear groundwater contamination from the drilling of gas wells in Pennsylvania's and New York's Marcellus Shale. EOG has a small operation in the Marcellus, and for his part, Papa -- citing a study by the Ground Water Protection Council, an organization of state water-quality regulators -- maintains that there has yet to be a single documented case of underground drinking-water aquifers contaminated by fracking.)

From: CNN: EOG's big gamble on Bakken Shale was a winning bet

Still, Doerr's boss, EOG chief executive Mark Papa, wanted to shift EOG's focus from natural gas toward oil. Even more surprising: Papa intended to drill for oil not in hot spots like Canada, Africa, or the deep water of the Gulf of Mexico, but in the continental U.S. If Doerr had any doubts about his boss's strategy, they were put to rest in May 2006 when EOG drilled its first major North Dakota oil well in Parshall, a tiny outpost about 50 miles west of Minot. As with EOG's Barnett gas wells, the Parshall oil well was drilled horizontally -- in contrast to the vertical wells traditionally drilled in the North Dakota oil patch. Doerr's crew drilled to a depth of 9,100 feet, stopped, and then curved out laterally to target a 40-foot-wide layer of porous, oily rock sandwiched between two thick layers of shale. "Our goal was to drill horizontally 5,000 feet," Doerr recalls during a tour of the original drilling site. "But we only got out 1,800 because of all the oil and gas we encountered."

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So is there more oil off the coast of the US or inland??

There is so much natural gas available in the U.S in shale that is just beginning to be developed, that the U.S. can become the world's major exporter of natural gas later in the decade. The issue is that the US doesn't have the liquefaction/export capabilities installed to sell and export liquid natural gas. (Although a company called Cheniere is spending billions on a plant near Beaumont, Texas, to convert an nat gas import facility to an export facilty.) China and Canada are also working on an export facility on the British Columbia coast to export Canada's Nat gas (and some U.S.) to China.

Because natural gas will become so cheap and plentiful in this country, there is active consideration being given to construct huge natural gas to gasoline conversion plants.

As far as oil offshore, don't even ask. California, Florida, and possibly much of the east coast have huge reserves that can't be touched. In the meantime, Cuba is leasing it's offshore to non-U.S. countries for drilling near Key West.

Seattle Times: Cuba's Oil, our mess

Can't drill in Alaska, but that's not stopping Russia, Norway, or Denmark/Greenland from drilling in treacherous offshore waters:

Russia, Norway, Denmark (Greenland) move to develop Arctic Ocean Oil

U.S. companies are experiencing a permitorium in the Gulf of Mexico, but the U.S. Government approves of and helps establish Petrobas a as major oil player off shore of Brazilian sensitive ecologies:

July 21, Brazil announces major oil find

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Wait a minute Star, I thought all of the new jobs in the next 10 years were going to be green jobs. None of this sounds very green to me. ;)

Thanks for all of the links. I'll read them after I get the troops to bed.

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All practicality set aside - on a purely philosophical basis, combusting fossil fuels like natural gas is not the best way to fuel our power plants and cars. Fusion is the grail on the power plant side and not sure what will be the grail on the car side, but for sure it will be electric propulsion based (just a matter of what will store the charge: battery, fuel cell, other?).

Back in reality, I'm sorry to say that fossil fuels are the best thing we have -- for now. The most important short-term goal has got to be the US's energy independence. If domestic natural gas from shale can get us there, then I'm onboard. But there's absolutely not reason not to have government oversight and regulation to make sure it's properly harvested.

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All practicality set aside - on a purely philosophical basis, combusting fossil fuels like natural gas is not the best way to fuel our power plants and cars. Fusion is the grail on the power plant side and not sure what will be the grail on the car side, but for sure it will be electric propulsion based (just a matter of what will store the charge: battery, fuel cell, other?).

Back in reality, I'm sorry to say that fossil fuels are the best thing we have -- for now. The most important short-term goal has got to be the US's energy independence. If domestic natural gas from shale can get us there, then I'm onboard. But there's absolutely not reason not to have government oversight and regulation to make sure it's properly harvested.

Exactly, since government does everything so well. :silly:

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For all of you that get bucks from royalties and/or oil stocks, I apologize in advance; but living in NW North Dakota has become dangerous, and the area is no longer livable. I'll skip the constant crime, bar fights, truckers that don't care and force small vehicles off roads, etc. It's out of control.

Instead, I'll focus on contamination, loss of grasslands, and the testing the the State Department of Health has done on ground and surface water, the data from which has since been buried to avoid alarming the public, and could cause problems for the revenue coming into the state, and the good state economy in times when most of the country is hurting.

Produced water contamination, the most publicized problem, is real. Soils near and around old evaporation pits and reserve pits are sterilized, do not grow any sort of vegetation, and have ruined the ground and surface waters. The later requirement to inject the saltwater back into the shale has helped for the future, but leaking saltwater lines, saltwater truckers that are paid by the load, and will dump the contaminated water anywhere to avoid wasting time in long lines at disposal wells, continue to date.

While hydraulic fracturing is bringing out about the largest outcry, it is primarily because of a chemical concoction that has no EPA approval, that this outcry is occurring. I don't know who knows, other than the oil co's, what this concoction is, but it isn't being advertised, so one would assume it's not something good or neutral.

Yet again, however, there are known reserve pit contaminants that are being hidden from the public, even though the state knows very well what they are. The contaminants are elements, present on the surface naturally in only trace amounts, that are present in the shales in elevated and dangerous levels. These elements are part of the cuttings that are brought up in the drilling process and deposited in the reserve pits, the contents of which are passed off as "drilling mud".

These dangerous elements include, to name a few, cadmium, barium, beryllium, selenium, and arsenic (if you don't recognize their toxicity, try googling). All have been found in elevated and dangerous concentrations in the shallow ground water aquifers and surface waters in the areas of old oil well drilling activity, which includes thousands of sties from the oil boom of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The NDDOH had (has?) data from testing these waters in the Lignite, ND, vicinity, but has not made them public, and may have, by now, shredded and deleted those results. Testing was supposed to go on for several years, with new test wells being added annually, but when these toxins were found, the testing ended abruptly after one year, and no longer is done.

OIl co's will argue that new standards that require pits to be lined and, when drilling is completed, solidified, and wrapped in the plastic barrier and buried near the surface make reserve pits safe, but they are simply not protecting the ground water and surface water, not to mention surface soils and subsoils in those areas. We've seen the liners, being difficult to put down in the wind, stapled to the soil, creating a series of holes throughout the liner in the pit, defeating its purpose, We've also seen the liners blown away from the pit boundaries and the "mud" with its toxins coming into direct contact with surrounding soils. The state has fined many companies this spring for overflowing reserve pits due to the extreme runoff that occurred from snow melt and rainfall. No fine, however large, can stop the watersheds from contamination, which continues to occur. A very limited amount of closed loop drilling rigs are starting to be used, whereby the reserve pit is eliminated and the cuttings are returning directly to the shale, but this drilling is more costly, and until it is required contamination will continue at an alarming rate. Even when closed loop is required, and it will be eventually, how can anyone clean up the mess that has been created in NWND from 50+ years of exploration.

I plan to move to eastern ND soon, to get out of this area, and live where I can "enjoy" the booming ND economy and get away from the contamination (my house is now worth 3 to 4 times what I paid for it). Not sure any of us should bury our heads in the sand like this state has, but, if we're making money and don't live near the contamination, I guess that's a good thing for us, right? Just remember, almost everyone lives somewhere down the watershed from the oil boom areas.

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Thanks sprig for the insights.

I think petro-chemical companies know they have about 50 years max to earn as much profit as they can muster before fusion and battery-electric devices completely nullify demand for their products. Hence the urgency to develop and harvest domestic sources as quickly as possible, seemingly without regard to damaging effects of their harvesting methods.

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