Since 2007, petroleum production in N. Dakota has increased 600%, nearly all of it coming from the Bakken shale formation. One problem they had was the reserves were much deeper beneath the surface—about 2 miles down, and encased in solid shale and sandstone.
Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) works something like this: a well is drilled vertically into the ground, followed by miles of piping. When the drill and pipe hit the Bakken shale, they curve horizontally, drilling through the upper layer of rock into the middle of the formation. A water-based fluid is then shot down into the pipe. When the extremely pressurized fluid reaches the Bakken the rock fracture, releasing the embedded oil back up the pipe. A well on the surface can be placed miles away form the deposit of oil that might lie beneath a functioning farm or ranch.
In the firs 2 months of 2013, oil production already far outpaced last year and the number of active producing wells has doubted since the end of 2008. You never hear about dry holes in N. Dakota.
The drawbacks—after drilling is complete, the fracking fluid—water laden with chemicals—is pumped into the ground in deep reservoirs. The fluid could seep into the groundwater, which is often used for irrigation and drinking water.
It is impossible to ignore the overriding economic benefits of fracking. A study form the US Bureau of Economic Analysis found that in 2012, N. Dakota had the fastest growing economy in the country for the third straight year. The state’s growth rate of 13.4% was 3 times that of its closest competitor, Texas and 5 times the rate of the country as a whole.
The population of Watford peaked at just over 2100 in 1980 and in 1990 it had fallen to 1800 and by 2000 fewer that 1500. Today Watford is close to 2,500. Problems from this—housing shortages, high rent, lack of motels, traffic, crime, roads and infrastructure, drugs, and prostitution.
Well drilling in the Bakken will continue for a few more years, but the important jobs of oil production, refinement and distribution could remain for the long haul, maybe even the next 40-50 years.
And in case you didn’t know this, the farmer may have title to the land but these days the oil company controls the riches below. Take the case of Fred Evans, a rancher who spent yeas buying up mineral rights of his neighbors. Property owners in the US typically obtain not jus the right to build, farm and live on the surface of their property but also title to the natural resources underneath, N. Dakota is among the states where these minerals rights are severable from the surface rights. Selling your mineral rights is a bet against their ever being any resources of value. He therefore was able to lease all those mineral rights he had accumulated to the exploration companies. Minerals take precedence over surface and that’s the law.
There is work there if you can find a place to live. Take in Williston, a hotel room with kitchen goes for $599 week, Wal-Mart pays $17.50 hours, and tent cities are all over the place. The second boom there is housing. A ranch style home with 3 bedrooms, basement is around #300,000.00.
So is this a good thing or what—you decide, as for myself I think the drilling is great and we should tell OPEC to go to H—! Source—weekly standard, Michael warren


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