September 26, 2008

Energy sector experiencing growing pains


Northwestern North Dakota has seen a dramatic increase in traffic, employment, construction and the dollars to keep pace with a rapidly growing energy economy in recent months.

But along with those growing pains come numerous shortages including housing, workers, roads, law enforcement and even electricity.

Technology may be partly to blame, according to Kenton Onstad, a spokesman for Mountrail-Williams Electric who gives oil field tours. He said an oil well can be drilled and pumping oil in as few as 43 days compared to 180 days on average in 1980.

In addition, in 1980, the average depth of an oil well was 7,500 feet, which made the Bakken Formation untouchable. Today, most of the oil companies have the capacity to drill to depths of 18,000 feet along with horizontal drilling up to 1,000 feet.

That means more wells are dug in less time and today’s wells are producing more oil, thus more people and equipment are needed to keep up with the nation’s demand.

"The impact to the county is huge, just look at rent," said Onstad. "A home that couldn’t be sold for $3,000 a year ago is now renting for $600 a month. Rooms are going for $20 a day."


Energy sector experiencing growing pains

The Weather Network