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The Bakken Gold Rush

Posted by on October 25, 2013

When thinking of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, I think of the days of old, when the gold rush was ever present.  I envision an old western movie where sickness, violence, wealth, and greed combine with the hard working and dedicated family men to create a story line that keeps you interested until the very end.  In many ways, both the gold rush in California and the oil rush in North Dakota are similar. They both have brought overcrowding, and people of all races, religions, and backgrounds into one area in hopes of finding wealth.  Granted, in today’s day and age, it is not gold nuggets that fuel the fever, it is liquid black gold.  The only real change is the technology that has brought success rather then the failure that once plagued the 1800’s gold rush .

Perhaps, with the modern day gold rush, there is the opportunity for governing and control, while back in the 1800’s, the need for gold made men mentally sick and brought corruption and violence like a bad disease. Some would argue that black gold has brought some of the same devastation with North Dakota battling a known drug problem, rumors of prostitution, and even murder and kidnapping.  The once small community of Williston, North Dakota has now gained a reputation of being a dangerous place to live, yet hard working men still flock to the area with big dreams for financial freedom.

Although rumors surround the farming community, you cannot deny the potential of the booming shale.  For the United States, the Bakken Shale has become one of the sole reasons that America has the potential to become a global leader in energy supply.  The shale houses over 200 oil rigs and holds more then 20 million barrels of crude oil.  The oil was first discovered in 1951 but was financially unable to be recovered. Now with technological advances like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, harvesting hidden oil has become feasible.  Thus leading to the boom that has reconstructed the farm lands of North Dakota.

While some argue that the oil boom has brought nothing but devastation, others appreciate the financial stability that has changed the community. North Dakota, now has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, thanks to the oil boom.  Not to mention, farmers, who once were struggling to make ends meet are now able to rest easy with royalty money coming in from the rig leases.  The money does not stop there.  It flows into the hands of restaurants that feed the hungry working men, into the hotels that give out of towners a place to sleep, and real estate has skyrocketed with old and new homes being bought up.  Even small retail stores are seeing a marginal change in profits.  The taxes being collected are freeing up debt at state level, and for the first time in years, those pot holes in the roads are being repaired.

With every opportunity for good, comes opportunity for bad, yet opportunity rarely presents itself with the untold profit margins of the black gold that bleeds from the rock formations of North Dakota.   Like the days of old, men flock to the area with big dreams, hoping that the promise of crude oil will allow for years of solid work and offer financial freedom.  The community has grown at an alarming rate, sometimes bringing the good with the bad, yet no signs of resistance has slowed the drilling of the farming lands in North Dakota.

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