More good stuff on the Bakken – two perspectives on the local economy – 3/24

Here’s a few quick notes on interesting news from the northern side of Cowboyistan:

3/19 – Reuters Media at Dickinson Press – Some come late to the oil party: Companies more selective after low prices slows boom – Article tells story of a guy and gal who drove to Williston.

Arrived with no skills, no money, no housing, and no job.

His truck broke down outside town and they didn’t have reserves to get it fixed. While working odd jobs and staying where they could bum a couch, they fell in love and got married. Eventually she took a one-way bus ticket home as they split up. Later, he took a bus home.

The skilled guys working the oil field who got laid off are taking what would otherwise be the entry-level jobs for people just arriving.

Up till six months ago, the advice for everyone heading to Bakken was to have housing lined up before you get there. Now you also need to have a job lined up, and probably ought to have a few dollars in your pocket.

Oh, a bit more advice – don’t get married when neither of you have a decent job. Or transportation. Or a place to sleep.

On the other hand, maybe that couple should have stopped in Watford City, which is about an hour south and east of Williston….

3/20 – NPR – Some Anxiety, But No Slowdown For North Dakota Oil Boom Town – Watford City hasn’t slowed down at all. The reporter did not notice any sign of a slowdown compared to his visit a year earlier. His hotel room still cost $200 a night. Outside town, the rigs still look like Christmas trees. (That view is really cool if you’ve never seen it before.)

A loan officer says help-wanted signs are offering $14 an hour. Wal-Mart’s starting pay is $17 an hour. (That’s the same as in Williston last October.)  The loan officer and her husband are renting a trailer for $2,000 a month.

Article closes by saying lots of people in town would like to see a bit of a slowdown. Would give everyone a chance to breathe.

3/19 – Dickinson Press – Wind farm proposed in Stark County – Dickinson Wind LLC has filed with PSC to build an 87 turbine wind farm east of Dickinson that will be near Taylor ND. The sub of NextEra Energy Resources has most of the landowner permissions and has a 30 year contract to sell the 150Mw of electricity to Basin Electric. A 310 mil 230 kilovolt transmission line will go in. Project may be expanded to 1,400Mw.

Turbines will be 430 feet tall. To minimize flicker, all towers will have a 2,000 foot setback from any occupied house. Noise level is promised to be 50db or less, which is compared to a conversation at home or a quiet suburb.

Large part of the economics making this viable, other than a 30 year contract, are a tax credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour.

NextEra already has around 550 slice-and-dicers operating in the state which are rated to produce 850Mw.

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