Mineral extraction economies activate this neural mechanism: wildcatting, prospecting for gold — gambles that may pay off. Today it’s no longer the individual who makes these scores, of course, it’s corporations, but the work and opportunity draws those with nothing to lose but the trying. California in 1849, Colorado in 1859, Montana in 1883, Texas and Oklahoma in 1912, Alaska in 1970, North Dakota in 2008 — every time there’s a mining boom, it plays out thusly: Someone finds a valuable resource. People hear about it and flock to the area. These people are mainly men. The newly populated area is lawless and lacks the civilizing influence of family life. Among the first women to show up are prostitutes. For a while, everyone makes money and has fun. Or some people do, some gambles pay off. Then the resource dries up or its price drops, and the gamble isn’t profitable anymore, and the town eventually dries up or turns into a tourist attraction — or San Francisco, if it’s lucky. Because our brains are wired to want to continue taking that chance, everyone keeps gambling, no one thinks the boom will bust. It will. It always will.There will be a bust. Maybe it won't be sudden, but it will come. Also, if you want some insights into how the stripping economy works, check out the article.
Williston is booming right now. I’ve worked there since 2007, and oil has changed the town both completely and not at all.... Despite boom–bust history being part of the landscape, there is surprisingly little reservation about the boom among the Williston workers. After all, the price of oil is always rising. But the price of oil always falls. My home state of Texas has been through this cycle more than once, and the differences in attitudes between the two places is striking. The Eagle Ford Shale play is close to as active as the Bakken, but housing construction has been slow in coming because they feel it could stop at any time. Not the people I meet in North Dakota, most of whom aren’t natives. Most of them think it’s just going to get bigger. There’s so much oil in the Bakken, and the technology now is so much better, that it will keep going for 20, 30, 40, 50 years, they say. The only dissenting voice I encountered was that of one old-timer who’d seen the initial drilling of the 1950s.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
The Bakken Boom - A Stripper's Perspective
I liked this part: