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North Dakota: Legendary. Follow the trail of legends

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 economy of North Dakota is booming.
    • North Dakota has the fastest growing economy of any state in the United States.
      • Many states are in debt (short of money), but North Dakota has a one billion dollar ($1,000,000,000) budget surplus (extra money).


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.

  • The oil and gas industry in North Dakota provides employment for thousands of people.
    • The energy boom has attracted workers from all over the country.
      • North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation.
    • About 50,000 people work in the oil fields of western North Dakota.
    • North Dakota's 17 oil and gas producing counties account for almost one-third of all the job openings in the state.
    • Wages (pay received for work) are higher in parts of North Dakota than in many other states.


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 brings challenges.
    • Many workers are moving to western North Dakota to take advantage of job opportunities and there was not enough housing for everyone.
      • Some of the workers are living in campers and other temporary housing.
    • There is a shortage of hospitals and doctors because the population (number of people) has increased.
    • Prices have gone up on rent, products, and services.
    • The increased truck traffic makes some roads in western North Dakota dangerous.
      • Traffic on a main highway in western North Dakota went from 1,400 to 14,000 vehicles per day.
      • Each new oil well needs about 2,000 truck trips back and forth to the well during the first year.
      • Traffic to additional wells after the first well drops to 850 trips. If pipelines would be in place, this could possible drop down to 250 truck trips.
    • 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.
    • By the year 2020, the state could see a peak of 65,000 well-paying jobs related to the oil and gas industry.
    • 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