Oil Boom

Rent and Frozen Pillows: How Bakken Housing Evolved with the Oil Boom

Oct 23, 2018
Todd Melby

If you drove through the Bakken a few years ago, you would have seen dozens of new hotels, RV parks and mobile homes that popped up when the oil rigs rolled into town.

Housing prices soared as people flocked to western North Dakota. They came for jobs on the rigs, or to drive truck or lay pipe, and they needed places to live. So too did many new teachers, police officers and health care workers who supported the growing populations of towns like Williston and Watford City.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission has dismissed a complaint filed against an oil refinery project planned for Belfield.

The complaint was filed by environmental groups and individuals concerned about how close the proposed Davis Refinery would be to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The PSC accepted the ruling of an administrative law judge

Meridian Energy proposes a refinery that would process 49,500 barrels of oil every day. But state law says the PSC does not get involved in siting refineries unless it would process over 50,000 barrels a day.

House passes new oil tax allocation formula

Feb 26, 2015

The House has passed a change in the oil tax distribution formula.

But it isn’t what Governor Dalrymple proposed.

The current formula on oil tax is – 75 percent goes to the state, 25 percent to local governments. Dalrymple and oil patch Republicans wanted to make that formula 60-40 – 60 percent to local governments, 40 percent to the state. Instead, the House passed what it called the 70-30 plan – 70 percent to the state, 30 percent to local governments.

House Democratic Minority Leader Kenton Onstad (D-Parshall) says he’s reluctantly supporting the proposal.

Todd Melby visits with Phil Hamm about his experience with housing in Williston

A Man and a Marathon Mission

Jun 13, 2014

Caleb Kobalinsky is getting some rest after undertaking an extreme venture to deliver a message of support to those in North Dakota's oil patch. Prairie Public reporter Todd McDonald has details...

The president of the North Dakota Association of Builders says he expects the demand for single-family housing will be growing in Williston.

Ken Callahan is from Williston. He says the city has received a lot of publicity lately because of very high rents. But Callahan says as more multi-family apartment projects are completed, the rents will start coming down.

Callahan says as the oil industry transitions to more production and less exploration, workers will move to Williston with their families. And he says the city is already seeing that.

Oil Patch Code Blue 4: Juhnke v. Marathon

Sep 12, 2013

We’re airing a series of stories this week about injuries and deaths in North Dakota’s oil patch. Yesterday, we learned how the death of oil worker Dustin Bergsing affected his fiancée, daughter and a close friend.

Today, we explore the legal battle that occurred after Bergsing died. It concerns whether or not Marathon Oil ignored repeated internal warnings about unsafe working conditions at the well site where the young man worked.

Black Gold Boom reporter Todd Melby has the story.

This story was made possible by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

Oil Patch Code Blue 3: "A beautiful man"

Sep 11, 2013

During the last couple of days, we’ve been focusing on the rising number of injuries and deaths in North Dakota’s oil patch.

Trauma admissions have doubled or tripled at hospitals in the west. More men are dying on drilling rigs and other oil industry workplaces than ever before.

Today, we examine how these trends are affecting families. Black Gold Boom reporter Todd Melby traveled to Montana to learn more.

Oil Patch Code Blue 2: 'Mad as Hell'

Sep 10, 2013

This week we’re exploring injuries and deaths in North Dakota oil country.

Yesterday, we learned about the struggles of a rural ambulance company and the rising number of trauma admissions at western North Dakota hospitals.

Today, we turns our attention to on-the-job deaths in the state’s booming oil industry. According to a 2008 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, oil field workers are seven times more likely to suffer a fatal on-the-job injury than the average American worker.

Oil Patch Code Blue 1: There's the Pager

Sep 9, 2013

North Dakota’s non-stop oil boom has made lots of people rich. Some ranchers are millionaires, a few oil bosses are billionaires and lots of working people have more money in their pockets than they used to.

But those riches haven’t come without a cost.

As the boom exploded with drilling rigs, frac crews, and oilfield workers of every kind, the number of on-the-job deaths has jumped to record highs. Traumatic injuries on roads and job sites have also skyrocketed.

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