Individual drive of workers in Bakken

Amazing article by Mark Perry at Carpe Diem. Brings to mind lots of ideas, such as the amazing attitude of people working in the oil patch and yet another reminder that Peak Oil is a failed concept. Here is the first of my reactions to his post.

American Spirit on display in Bakken field

6/23 – Carpe Diem at American Enterprise Institute – Bakken updates: 1) Williston as ground zero for the American spirit and 2) Here comes Shale 2.0! – Article quotes a correspondent amazed at the people working in Williston. Everyone is there to earn a living. Not looking for handouts. Wanting to work.

Two sentences from the person:

I love being around people who take responsibility for their own well-being, and the Bakken is full of people like that.

… I was surrounded by hard-working, grab-your-bootstraps-and-pull people.

While in Williston last month, I actually saw a panhandler. Seriously. A panhandler. There was a person with a sign begging for money sitting on the curb at the shopping mall in Minot. My son was not amused.

If you can pass a criminal background check you can find a job in western North Dakota. Most positions, but not all, require passing a drug test. The only other requirement is you actually can work. Defacto minimum wage is in the range of $15 to $17 an hour.

Consider the following as an indicator of what the whole region was like until last fall:

I got to know a fellow who was working in the oil field. He wasn’t on the rigs, but was in one of the huge number of support positions at a drilling site.

He worked a 12 hour shift on site. The 2 hour drive out to a site and 2 hour drive back was on the clock. That meant he routinely was working a 16 hour day. I’m not sure if he was working six or seven days a week; let’s assume six.

That means he was regularly working 96 hours a week. North Dakota has reasonable labor laws, so everything over 40 was time and a half. That means he was getting paid the equivalent of about 124 hours a week.

You can do your own math. You can assume he was making $20 an hour, which is just a little over the de facto minimum wage. Or you could assume pay of around $30 an hour, which I’m guessing is in midrange in terms of skills.

That is a lot of money.

For other reasons, this fellow went back home for a while.

Lots of jobs have gone away. It is my impression that most of the other jobs are down to something that’s just a bit over a normal workweek.

The drive you will see in North Dakota is amazing. I would agree with Prof. Perry’s comment:

Williston as ground zero for the American spirit.

I will make a not-very-wild guess that the same comments could be made about people working in Eagle Ford and Permian.

Shale 2.0

Post points to Mark Mill’s Shale 2.0 paper. Don’t have time to mention that now, but will get back to it.


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