What About Us?

How petroleum and natural gas production affect the people of North Dakota:

Bakken Pumpjack, Aerial
Bakken Pumpjack, Aerial: An aerial view of a pumpjack in Western North Dakota.Photo courtesy of Marathon Oil.
  • Every person in North Dakota benefits from oil and gas production.
    • Homes, schools, and businesses are heated with natural gas.
    • Thousands of products are made from petroleum.
      • Each barrel (42 gallons) of petroleum can make about 19 ½ gallons of gasoline.
        • Over half of the remaining petroleum is used to make other products.


  • Because of the oil and gas industry, the economyEconomy refers to the buying and selling of goods and services. In a good economy, jobs are available, products are available for people to buy, and most people have plenty of money to spend. of North Dakota is boomed between 2008 and 2015.
    • North Dakota was the fastest growing economy of any state in the United States.
      • Many states were in debt at the time (short of money), but North Dakota had a one billion dollar ($1,000,000,000) budget surplus (extra money).
      • Because oil is a commodity – an important, basic good that is bought and sold on the market – the industry can be greatly affected by prices.
      • Oil prices fell in early 2016 because over-production of oil around the world caused too much supply, and oil wasn’t as in demand as before.
      • Oil prices in July 2008, at the peak of the boom, were $133.48 per barrel. Oil prices in February 2016 were $39.26 per barrel.
      • Because oil companies are using some new technology, they are able to keep producing oil, but not as much as they were before prices dropped.


Frack Operator
Frack Operator: A technician overseeing hydraulic fracturing operations.Photo courtesy of Whiting Petroleum.
Time-lapse of drilling & fracking a well – Watch this 2-minute video to see a time-lapse of all the machinery, equipment, workers and resources that go into drilling and hydraulic fracturing a well. Video courtesy of Marathon Oil.
  • Even though the oil and gas industry has slowed down, it still provides employment to thousands of people.
    • Wages (pay received for work) are higher in parts of North Dakota than in many other states.
    North Dakota has one of the lowest unemployment ratesA low unemployment rate means that fewer people need to look for work in North Dakota than in any other state because plenty of jobs are available. in the nation.


Trucks bringing equipment to a drilling site
Trucks bring equipment to a drilling site: Drilling a well requires truckloads of materials.Photo courtesy of Wyoming Casing Service.
  • North Dakota's oil and gas boom also brought challenges.
    • Many workers moved to western North Dakota to take advantage of job opportunities and there was not enough housing for everyone.
    • Prices went up on rent, products, and services.
    • The increased truck traffic makes some roads in western North Dakota dangerous.
      • New pipelines were put into place to take some of the truck traffic off the roads.
    • Many businesses are having difficulty finding enough workers because of the low unemployment rate.


Rig Floor Operators (Roustabouts)
Rig Floor Operators: Rig floor operators (also known as roustabouts) handle operations on a drilling rig. Photo courtesy of Whiting Petroleum.
  • In spite of the challenges, the oil boom has opened up career opportunities for young people in North Dakota.
    • Depending on the price of oil, North Dakota could see a peak of about 145,000 oil-related jobs by 2035. 
    • Energy courses and training programs are offered at several North Dakota colleges and universities including those at Bismarck, Minot, Fort Yates, Devils Lake, Wahpeton, Fargo, Grand Forks, and Williston.
    • Drilling new oil wells, building pipelines, constructing housing, and creating more businesses will continue to bring opportunities to the people of North Dakota far into the future.
      • Each new oil well drilled in the Bakken is expected to pump oil for the next 45 years.