Visit to Williston during Thanksgiving 2016

November 2016 photo by James Ulvog.
November 2016 photo by James Ulvog.

Just got back from a visit to Williston to see family during Thanksgiving week. Had a delightful time. Even got to drive around the oil field a little bit.

Got lots of new photos. A lot!

I reeeeeeally lucked out and glanced out the window at just the right time.  Got a bunch of photos of the wing-toasting facilities at Ivanpah.

For example:

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. November 2016 photo by James Ulvog.
Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. November 2016 photo by James Ulvog.

During the rain and overcast that start afternoon on Saturday and ran until around sundown on Sunday, the towers probably weren’t quite so bird-killing white-hot.

Drilling rigs

There is one rig in the city of Williston and two rigs a mile or two north of town.

Seemed to me there were more water trucks on the road than I have seen in the last year or two. That is probably just a reflection that there are three drilling rigs running in Williston which obviously means a lot of traffic in the immediate area .

Here is the rig count, per the Williston Herald:

  • 11/22 – 38 rig count
  • 11/23 – 36 rig count
  • 11/25 – 37 active rigs

Here are some  price indicators from the paper:

  • $37.00 ND northern area
  • $37.00 ND light crude
  • $47.96 West Texas intermediate
  • $48.95 Brent crude

That shows a $10.96 spread between WTI and at-the-wellhead price in North Dakota. Transportation cost is still a big factor.


Just a few stray, completely unscientific observations.

Over the few days we were in Williston I drove by a huge amount of construction which was underway the last two times we were visiting. I noticed several projects have long since been completed and occupied. In particular I noticed several large apartment complexes (two by Menards and another on 26th) and two neighborhoods of single family housing and duplexes on the west side are done.

I saw several unoccupied man camps on the north side of town. Noticed two empty man camps on the way to Minot, one of which is being dismantled.

Also noticed one relatively new apartment complex that was unoccupied. There are five buildings in the complex, each with three stories and I would guess 8 or 10 units on each floor.

That is around 150 units.

I hear tell that the owner couldn’t cover the mortgage payments and is now in bankruptcy.  My completely wild guess is the project was funded on the assumption that rental prices and occupancy would continue for several decades at the levels seen about 4 or 5 years ago. If my complete guess is correct, that was a bad call.

Shopping and de facto minimum wage

We didn’t get out to do much shopping so I don’t have any impressions from the stores or downtown area for what has changed since our last visit.

Every time we have been in Williston the Wal-Mart there had a sign out front saying the starting wage for all positions was $17 an hour.

That message was not on the sign this time. Just as a wild guess, I suppose that means the de facto minimum wage in town is no longer $17.

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