North Dakota


Wed April 1, 2015
Oil Price Drop Fallout

What It's Like To Be In The Oilfield When Prices Fall

Neil LaRubbio on the job site.
Courtesy of Neil LaRubbio.

When oil prices fall, one of the first things cut is the number of drilling rigs – and the number of workers who man them. With falling rig counts in Texas, North Dakota and in Colorado comes more competition for the remaining jobs on drill sites.

Neil LaRubbio was one of those workers. This is his firsthand account as one of those fighting to keep his place in the industry.

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Fri March 27, 2015

Research Flights Probe Why Some Oil & Gas Basins Pollute More Than Others

The NOAA P3 aircraft will be flying over oil and gas basins across the western United States.

Researchers from the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder have begun a new study to measure air pollution from oil and gas fields across the West.

The scientists are flying a small airplane across numerous oil and gas basins, from North Dakota's Bakken oil field, through Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, and all the way down to Texas. They will take measurements of methane as well as ozone precursors, and aim to answer the question: Why do some oil and natural gas production basins pollute more than others?

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Fri March 20, 2015

Some Anxiety, But No Slowdown For North Dakota Oil Boom Town

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 5:58 pm

A production site in the Bakken oil patch as seen from inside an abandoned farmhouse just outside Watford City, N.D.
David Gilkey NPR

Low oil prices are causing a drop in new drilling and exploration in North Dakota, but not as much as you might expect.

Take the boom town of Watford City, over in the northwestern corner of the state and in the heart of the Bakken oil patch. Its population has tripled since 2010, and today, continues to climb.

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Thu February 19, 2015

For North Dakota's Wastewater Spills, Transparency Is Hard To Come By

Damage to farmland from a wastewater spill near Daryl Peterson's land in Bottineau County, North Dakota.
Emily Guerin Inside Energy

Bottineau County, North Dakota – just south of the Canadian border in the central part of the state – has been producing oil for decades, but has largely been left out of the state's recent boom. Now, rusty pumpjacks and tanks rise above a green quilt of soybeans and wheat.

Daryl Peterson stopped his truck in the middle of a field, right by a large expanse of bare soil caked with white salt and covered with pools of standing water. In July 2011, a wastewater pipeline here leaked, damaging some 24 acres of land. The pipeline was from a well operated by Petro Harvester, a Texas-based oil company whose focus is aging oil fields.

The oilfield spill problem here has been getting worse for years, but state regulators and inspectors have downplayed how bad it really is – and have made it difficult to fact-check their claims.

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Wed February 11, 2015
Boom Life

Studying The Anthropology Of North Dakota's Oil Boom Man Camps

Fox Run RV park in Williston, North Dakota, is home to hundreds of workers brought to the Bakken by its oil boom. RV parks are a cheap option in Williston, where apartment rents can rival Manhattan.
Andrew Cullen Inside Energy

"Man camps" are a defining characteristic of an oil boom. Development happens so fast, there's never enough time to build adequate permanent housing - so temporary worker housing takes up the slack. When oil prices come crashing down, the man camps empty out.

Two researchers from the University of North Dakota, Bill Caraher and Bret Webber, said this housing boom-bust cycle is just part of a long history of settlement on the northern Great Plains. As part of their ongoing North Dakota Man Camp Project, they visit dozens of RV parks across the Bakken multiple times a year, interviewing residents and taking note of changes.

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