Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Oil Fuels N.D. Town's Boom New Estimates Have Eased Concerns of Another Bust

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Oil Fuels N.D. Town's Boom New Estimates Have Eased Concerns of Another Bust

Article excerpt

WILLISTON, N.D. -- Two days after a rosy government report doubled the estimate of how much oil is tucked beneath North Dakota, four men hop out of their vehicles into the soft dusk light atop a rock-strewn hill north of town.

They point at the barren, rolling landscape dotted with cattle, an oil well and a pond as a half-mile-long train of oil tank cars silently snakes past in the distance.

One is a former hedge fund manager who flew in from Connecticut. Another is a real estate investor who drove his pickup from Spokane, Wash. There's a local civil engineer and a homebuilder who moved out here when business dried up on Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

They're planning to buy the 70 acres of farmland for a 56-home subdivision on one-acre lots, envisioning a bedroom community as the area's oil boom reality of man camps and crowded RV parks morphs into something more permanent.

"This new estimate tells people looking to invest here that, hey, there is enough oil to drill here for 20 years instead of five," Williston Mayor Ward Koeser said. "Now there's scientific proof that we have twice as much oil as they said five years ago, and that gives us a little more stability, reliability and credibility."

It also adds what the mayor calls "stress on all aspects of government and huge challenges" -- from sewage treatment to police staffing to the dearth of day care providers, affordable housing and retail options -- for the nation's fastest-growing city. Williston's population has mushroomed from 12,500 people to nearly 40,000 in the area in just a few years.

But unlike the short-lived oil booms here in the 1950s and '80s, the new estimates have eased underlying concerns of another bust, feeding a new sense of long-haul optimism in northwestern North Dakota.

"We have growing pains, sure, but this shows the oil is here to stay and with all that opportunity, people are going to want to stay," said Angela DeMars, who gave up her 10-year career as a Target executive in Minneapolis to return to Williston, where her father once owned Walt's Grocery Store. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.