This is my first post on the Patchlife blog. I am excited to share my experiences living in the heart of the Bakken. For some background on me, I am a civil engineer specializing in land development from the Twin Cities and relocated to Minot last February. I am one of the thousands descending on Minot from all over the Country because of the demand created by the oil boom. Additionally, the flood that devastated Minot last summer displaced many dwellers and created a need for more housing. I arrived in February and work for a civil engineering firm that is head quartered in Fargo and recently opened up an office in Minot. I started writing my blog shortly after I arrived. I grew up and graduated from high school in Eastern Montana. I then moved to the Minneapolis area and lived in the Twin Cities for over 30 years. This is such an exciting and dynamic time for western North Dakota. Many of my friends and family were curious how things really are here. This is what inspired my to write my blog. If you want to read my previous blogs, the address is: http://whynotminotblog.blogspot.com/. I hope you enjoy reading and if you have any questions or things you want me to write about please leave a comment.
Hard to believe I it has been three weeks since I last wrote. I tend to write on Saturday’s and I went back to the Twin Cities two weeks ago.
This week I am going to write about some pictures I took between Minot and Tioga. I am going to start out writing about my co-workers and me volunteering our time for the Minot City Wide Clean-up Day. This is an annual event that helps the City to be more appealing to visitors coming into the Magic City. My co-workers at Moore Engineering spent a few hours this morning picking up trash near the Dakota Mall.
Here is some information about the strong economy from the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce:
Minot Unemployment Rate: Feb 2011 – 4.0%; Feb 2012 – 3.7%
US Unemployment Rate: Feb 2011 – 9.5%; Feb 2012 – 8.7%
Transportation Minot Intl Airport: Total Passengers March 2011 – 23,032; March 2012 – 38,912
Valuation of Building Permits: March 2011 – $11,623,000; March 2012 – $26,176,500.
Quite an increase as you can see. Now think of all the traffic and people associated with this growth. Heavy traffic and lines are common.
In the following picture, note the flame off in the distance. This is waste natural gas being burned off. Natural gas is encountered during the drilling and the fracking process. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves injecting a mix of water, sand and chemicals into shale formations at high pressures to extract oil and gas. The price of natural gas is low and the high cost of getting it to market makes it cheaper to just burn it off. In the picture, this was as far as I could go on this road. The white sign on the right side of the road said Private Property No Trespassing and the name of one of the major oil companies in the Bakken oil play.
This is a truck stop near Tioga which claims and has trademarked the slogan “Oil Capital of North Dakota”. This truckstop is a lot larger then the picture shows as it wraps to both sides. Truck traffic is high including tankers hauling crude, gas, and water; wide-loads hauling modular housing; flat beds hauling frames and pipes; dump trucks hauling rock and gravel; farm equipment during the farming season; construction vehicles, and many people drive a large pick-up truck. I drive a Ford Explorer and I feel like I drive a small vehicle in comparison. The inside store and restaurant at this truck stop were very busy. A new truck stop is close to opening across the highway.
This is Main St in Tioga. Tioga is a small town in the heart of the Bakken. Business is booming for the town with the oil field workers.
Oil, Oil, Oil!
This is at a project we are working on at Moore Engineering. Most of the workers are from out of state and live at the construction site. The trailers are occupied mostly by the contractors working on the development and the modular housing is more for the oil field workers. One building houses a large tank for potable water. These living arrangements are common throughout the area. Many workers work shifts of two weeks straight then one week off in which they go back to their homes in other parts of the Country. Notice there are some trees in these pictures. Considering how few trees are in the area, it is important as a developer to save as many trees in the developments and use them as an amenity because they block the winds, create shade, and attract habitat.
This a trestle bridge on the western edge of Minot. Trains pass through regularly because this and trucking are the two main cargo transportation methods. No refineries are located in the Bakken so hundreds of trains and diesel-fueled trucks are needed to accommodate such growth in a largely remote state, hauling crude to the nearest pipeline or rail head, hauling refined products to the drilling site or trucking in sand and water.
The wetland regulations are less strict in North Dakota then from what I am familiar with in Minnesota. We need to protect these waters, they attract water fowl, frogs, and other wetland habitat. Imagine listening to all of the habitat and natural sounds as you work, play, or relax.
Things are still busy here. I don’t know how long this will last. I know we are real busy with development work. And to think we have only been here a few months. On weekends the town is even busier with many oil field workers in town and also Minot is a shopping destination for a large geographical area. People from southern Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, eastern Montana, and western North Dakota flock to the area.
Minot can be a desirable city to visit and live. Currently the City is overloaded with demand for housing and infrastructure. Last year’s flood caused major damage and left debris and dirt in areas of the City. Many of the roads are in need of repair. Things will take time. Today was a good early start with the City Clean Up Day. I am seeing the City crews working hard fixing the streets. The economy here is booming. New housing is becoming available. It is an exciting and dynamic time.
Read more blog posts from “Life in The Patch” here.