oil patch

Oil patch growth creates funding nightmare

Nov 7, 2017
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

The decade-long shale fracking boom in North Dakota sent the population of oil patch communities soaring. These towns beefed up their public services to accommodate all the newcomers, but this sent their finances plummeting at a time when the price of oil tanked.

Now many oil patch cities are tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. They’re looking for stable funding to pay back their loans while hoping all the new residents choose to stay.

STB holds hearing in Fargo to discuss rail shortage

Sep 4, 2014

A backlog in rail shipments in North Dakota has prompted the Federal Surface Transportation Board to host a hearing in Fargo.

Federal, state and local officials provided testimony to the STB to convey just how extensive the rail shortage has become.  Governor Jack Dalrymple says the North Dakota Mill and Elevator has been forced to shut down 25 times due to the backlog of rail orders - which only seems to get longer.

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 state Industrial Commission has approved a policy dealing with oil development around identified “extraordinary places” in the oil patch.

But the policy doesn’t go as far as some hoped.

The original policy – as proposed by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem -- would have allowed public comment on oil development on about one-point-two million acres of land in western North Dakota. That would include public and private land. The Commission decided to only include public land.

'VisionWest ND' planning process continuing

Feb 7, 2014

Representatives of western North Dakota counties impacted by oil development are working on regional planning.

The VisionWest ND Consortium met in Minot Thursday to discuss the issues that cross county lines – and coming up with plans on how to deal with those issues.

“Housing is the first and foremost," said Karalee Cox, a planner with Arizona-based “Building Communities” – the firm the consortium hired to help with the planning process. "Water, child care, transportation and emergency services -- those were identified as the most pressing issues across the region."

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 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 activity in 'efficiency mode'

Aug 2, 2013

North Dakota's mineral resources director says activity in the oil patch has reached what he’s calling an “efficiency mode.”

“We have really settled in to a high rate of drilling in the basin," Lynn Helms told the Legislature's interim Government Finance Committee. "But it's no longer escalating at the straight upward trend. I think that's good news for the infrastructure of western North Dakota. It gives us an opportunity to catch up. It's good news for the department. It's good news for the industry.”

Western ND hospitals experience "growing pains"

Jul 2, 2012

The increasing population in the oil patch has hospitals in the area looking at expansion. The story from Prairie Public's Dave Thompson.

Gary Miller is the CEO of Bismarck’s St. Alexius Medical Center. He says the hospital is seeing an increasing demand for beds.

"We've been full in a number of areas," Miller said. "We've tried to hold patients in the emergency room while we're opening up in-patient beds and acute beds. We're going to have to seriously look at additional in-patient bed capability, because of what we're seeing in terms of volume growth in the west."

An investor-owned utility and an electric co-operative have reached what’s called a “service area agreement” – to serve customers in Kenmare. As Prairie Public's Dave Thompson reports, state regulators still have to approve that agreement.

Under the agreement, MDUand Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative would divvy-up the customers. The area is in the oil patch. And the agreement must be approved by the state Public Service Commission.