Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Life In the Bakken

A reporter goes to North Dakota to work for a month at a truck stop and learn what life is like in an oil boom:
The men arrived in trucks loaded with sand and scoria, oil and water, their boots brown with dust and hands black with filth. It took 2,300 truckloads to service every oil well drilled through production here, so the men filed in at every hour. They loaded up on energy drinks, candy bars, cheeseburgers, beef jerky, and frozen meals (“I ain’t got nobody to cook for me,” as one derrickman explained). Everybody was in a hurry; the oilfield demanded it. Run the pipes. Run the water. Run the tools. North Dakota was now second in oil production only to Texas.
“There’s a reason it pays as much as it does,” said a man who trucked crude oil, standing bleary-eyed at my register. “It’s not hard work, just dangerous ... We don’t know half the stuff that we’re breathing in ... The fumes off the oil, there’s times it’s actually brought me to my knees.”
Standing there in their Carhartt uniforms and Sturgis motorcycle rally gear, the men told me this trucking job was going to pay off their mortgages. They told me the eco-friendly liberals needed to respect oilmen because they risked their lives so everyone else could drive a car. Some lived in the back of a truck in the Bison parking lot, but officially speaking, their addresses were in dying towns in West Virginia and Mississippi and Washington.
The wind blew so hard over the Bison that it sometimes hurt to breathe while walking through the parking lot; it could take two tries to open the door, where the heads of elk shot by the owners on a Northwest hunting trip were mounted on either side. Dust tracked in on the workers’ boots and swept through with the gales. The displays of Twizzlers and Starburst and chocolate candy bars, power chargers and bottles of coolant—they all needed regular wipe-downs. The camping fuel cans were so covered in dust that it looked like someone had already taken them to the woods.
The whole story is interesting.  I just can't get over the 2,300 truckloads of sand, water, pipe, etc. to complete a single well.  That is just crazy.

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