Tuesday, November 1, 2011

South to the Future: North Dakota’s Oil Boom Series

By Steve MacDonald
Channel 2 News
10:13 a.m. AKDT, October 31, 2011

WILLISTON, North Dakota —
Once upon a time, the town of Williston, North Dakota was a tranquil dot in the middle of the vast prairie, a place where you could drive for hours in any direction and pass maybe one other car.

But today, things are different – and just driving through town means fighting a traffic jam of pickup trucks.

It’s been this way ever since Williston became the epicenter of one of the largest oil fields in North America.

Armed with new technologies, oil companies are reaching into the massive Bakken field, a geological formation that contains a possible 11-billion barrels of recoverable oil.

To get at the oil, thousands of wells must be drilled.

For North Dakota, the hiring boom for workers on the Bakken field looks a lot like Alaska in the 1970s – when thousands of workers rushed to find work on the North Slope.

Among those landing work in the fields are a growing number of Alaskans, who are heading south to jobs in the Bakken field at the same time as oil production declines in Alaska.

Are Alaska’s jobs and people heading South To The Future?

And what should the state do about it?

Contact Steve MacDonald at stevem@ktuu.com

Part 1: Alaskans Head South to a New Oil Boom


Part II: Priming Production in North Dakota


Part III: Plenty of Oil, Not Enough Housing