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20,000 Jobs Available in North Dakota’s Bakken Oil Fields

Posted by | May 24, 2016 | News

North Dakota’s Oil Boom To Grow Even Bigger

North Dakota is the No. 2 oil-producing state in the US, with an unemployment rate of 2.7% and 20,000 jobs looking for somebody to fill them. The oil boom that’s currently underway in the Williston Basin, heralded as the largest domestic oil discovery in the last 50 years, is promising to get even bigger, according to key state official Lynn Helms.

Helms, the director of North Dakota’s mineral resources department, said that the Bakken Shale formation in the western part of his state produced about 640,000 barrels of oil per day in May, second only to Texas’ 1.7 million b/d. But Helms emphasized that oil production in the Bakken is consistently increasing by 15,000 to 20,000 b/d every month, and that 35,000 additional wells will be drilled there in the coming years.

“We’re seeing back-to-back 5% increases in production,” Helms said. “And we’ve got 35,000 wells left to drill in this Bakken reserve.”

Helms said it will take 16 to 18 more years to fully develop the Bakken Shale formation, which is named after a farmer from Williston, North Dakota, who once owned the land. Geologists first discovered oil there in the early 1950s, but it wasn’t economically feasible to develop it until a few years ago, when companies became more adept in their use of technologies such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Helms said there are currently 210 drilling rigs working the Bakken, and that companies there are drilling nearly 3,000 new wells every year. For now, there is just one well in each “spacing unit,” he said. But that will change starting about 18 months from now, he said, when workers will begin drilling anywhere from 6 to 16 additional wells per spacing unit.

Gas Infrastructure Development

In addition to its vast oil reserves, Helms noted that the Bakken Shale formation also contains a significant amount of gas. But he acknowledged that currently, a full 30% of the gas that’s being produced is being flared off at the wellhead because there are not enough gas-gas-gathering systems in Western North Dakota to capture it. He said the state and the energy industry are attempting to rectify that shortcoming by investing some $4 billion in gas-related infrastructure.

“We’ll be a big gas producer two decades from now,” he said, citing a state-funded study that found that the Bakken Shale “will be mostly gas production” for the final 15 years of its economically viable lifespan.

Housing Challenges

Still, Helms acknowledged that there are challenges associated with North Dakota’s oil and gas boom. He said the biggest impediment is a lack of housing for the thousands of new oil-field workers who are flocking to tiny communities such as Watford City. Oil companies have tried to address the shortfall by building temporary housing units known as “man camps,” but some oil-field workers have had to resort to living in hotel rooms or even recreational vehicles.

“We have tons and tons of home construction and apartment construction ongoing, but it’s going to be a year or two before they catch up and can actually house the workforce that we require,” Helms said.

Pipeline Projects In The Works

Helms also acknowledged that western North Dakota does not currently have sufficient pipeline capacity to transport all of the Bakken’s oil to US refineries, many of which are thousands of miles away. He noted that there are several major pipeline projects in the works to address that problem, but until they come online, the Bakken’s oil industry will have to rely on rail transport, he said.

“Rail has stepped up,” he said. “They’re prepared for oil takeaway of whatever we can produce. So we’re now shipping oil by rail to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, St. James, Louisiana — pretty much all over North America in order to get it outside the pipeline infrastructure. We’re going to need rail for probably a decade.”

How To Apply For Oil Jobs In North Dakota

North Dakota added 35,000 new jobs in 2011 and will add another 10,000 this year. This trend won’t peak until 2020 with over 65,000 jobs created. Lynn Helms claimed they would need to hire 10 people a day in this industry between now and 2020. There are currently over 20,000 jobs available in North Dakota right now. If you’re considering moving to North Dakota to seek employment in the Bakken oil fields, make sure to create an account at DakotaOilJobs.com and upload your resume so employers can find you. You can easily apply online for jobs listed on the website with a few clicks of the mouse.