North Dakota’s Oil Boom Towns Are Heating Up Again


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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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North Dakota’s oil towns are booming again thanks to higher crude oil prices, according to a new study by North Dakota State University.

“We’re beginning to see a pick-up in activity,” Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, which commissioned the study, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “More drilling rigs are planning to move in during 2017. We anticipate a big increase in the amount of activity taking place.”

The study found rising oil prices would benefit workers, businesses, and state and local governments. Much of the wealth created from oil is spent in North Dakota.

The oil and gas industry contributed $34.25 billion dollars to the state’s economy in 2015, and created 72,350 jobs in 2015, according to the study. Researchers concluded that North Dakota is rapidly recovering from the oil price collapse of 2014.

Though the first wave of the oil boom mostly passed by the time the 2015 study period started, most of the jobs and wealth in the state have remained.

Crude prices have risen above $50 a barrel again, and many of the state’s oil wells are now economical.

“Communities have continued to do fairly well throughout the downturn,” Ness said. “We are currently in hiring mode and we’re seeing a lot of availability of things like housing at affordable rates. You’re seeing people out trying to find employees. You’re going to see a lot of hiring this year.”

In December of 2015, North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. at 2.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“If someone doesn’t have a job here, they don’t want to work,” Shawn Wenko, a workplace development coordinator for a North Dakota town, told CNN Money in 2011.

North Dakota is also one of the few places in the country where workers can earn six-figures without a college degree. The average income in oil rich counties more than doubled to $52,027 during the boom’s peak, giving North Dakota a budget surplus of over $1 billion.

“The economic value of developing our oil and gas resources extends well beyond the industry itself,” Chris Warren, a spokesperson for the free market Institute for Energy Research, told TheDCNF.

North Dakota’s oil boom could help the U.S. become “tantalizingly close” to energy independence when President Donald Trump’s first term ends in 2020.

The U.S. imported 65.3 percent of its oil in 2005, but the U.S. only imported 24.2 percent in 2015. The U.S. will import just 11 percent of its daily oil needs by 2020, according to CNN Money.

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