NPR recently published an article on the increasingly important role of the oil industry in North Dakota. NPR boasts that the US produced more crude than any other country this year, in large part due to booming production in North Dakota. The article briefly outlines the history of the industry in the state, specifically focusing on the small town of Watford City. With many small towns around the country hurting, Watford City’s economy is booming, as people from around the country have moved to the area for good-paying jobs in the oil industry.
Watford City mayor Phil Riely credits hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for revitalizing the small town, which had been losing population for years until recently. Riely tells NPR the city was considering closing a school and looking into other budgetary cuts, but the energy industry turned that around. The article writes “Instead of closing a school, a brand new $54 million dollar high school was built on the edge of town. And the oil industry has influenced what’s taught there.” In addition, the town has plans for more housing and businesses, as well as other key infrastructure improvements.
The influence and the benefits of the industry span from the economy to the schools. For example, Watford City High School has a new $20,000 truck-driving simulator, aimed at encouraging students to consider a career in trucking. Largely due to the nearby oil fields, the work is steady and the pay is good. On jobs in North Dakota, and growing opportunities in the state, NPR writes:
North Dakota’s unemployment rate in October was a low two-point-eight percent, nearly a full point below the national figure. So oil companies and others have trouble finding enough drivers.
Agriculture education teacher Scott Wisness says it’s great to have people moving to Watford City from all over the country for jobs.
“But we don’t want to export our students—or at least I don’t—and neither do these companies. They want to keep people here who are going to stay here… Who are going to raise their families here,” says Wisness.
The article points out North Dakota’s oil companies are producing record amounts of oil with half as many drilling rigs. Dakota Access Pipeline is another reason drilling has become more economical in the area. The pipeline has allowed significantly more oil to be transported across the country via pipeline, a safer, more affordable option than rail. GAIN looks forward to the continued investment and development of the energy industry in North Dakota, and around the US.