As the oil and gas industry has grown to employ over half a million oil and gas workers nationwide, the number of fatalities has grown as well. In 2013, 112 oil and gas workers died on the job; the year before, 142. Nationwide, oil and gas workers are still six times more likely to be killed on the job than the average American.
Texas had the most fatalities overall in 2011 and 2012 – 106 – but, according to a new analysis by Inside Energy, North Dakota had the highest fatal injury rate in the country, 75 deaths per 100,000 workers. That's three times higher than the national rate for oil and gas fatalities.
Which raises a question, how bad does it have to get before regulators and elected officials step in and do something?
Flaring – the practice of burning natural gas, often when it's produced as a byproduct of oil drilling – has come under scrutiny in recent years. In part this is because new oil plays are resulting in a lot of gas being flared off.
A new map released by the group SkyTruth uses U.S. satellite data to show flaring in the United States You can see flaring between March and August 2014, and zoom in and out to see flaring in specific locations.
Farming and ranching have always been the biggest industries in North Dakota. But now, oil has knocked agriculture from the top spot. Mining – which includes oil – is now worth $8.5 billion dollars in the state. Agriculture is closer to 7 billion.
It’s a milestone for a state that had hardly any oil production 10 years ago, and the change has created some tension.
By Stephanie Joyce - Wyoming Public Media & Inside Energy
In the first quarter of 2014, the United States surpassed both Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer. It already hit that mark for natural gas in late 2013. All of that oil and gas has to be transported from the fields where it’s drilled to refineries and processing plants.
Most of that is done by pipeline, but the nation’s pipeline infrastructure isn’t currently up to the task.
A leaky pipeline has spilled about 1 million gallons of saltwater near a North Dakota reservoir that supplies drinking water to the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. The pipeline, owned by the Texas-based Crestwood Midstream Partners, runs along the shore of Bear Den Bay on Lake Sakakwea, a reservoir on the Missouri River.