Two reports on the issue of whether transitory housing will remain in Williston: one court case closed with one remaining; city allows another year and a half to remove the camps.
Young guys who moved to North Dakota and decided to stay have brought their wifes to the area and guess what? Lots of them are having babies. By the way, our son is in that category, our daughter-in-law is someone who moved as well, and our grandson is one of the following statistics.
Finally, an indicator why people in North Dakota don’t like all the changes. I get it. Really, I get it: there are ugly sides to economic expansion.
Update 7-19-16: for future reference, his inmate number is 13523-059. His middle initial is A, for Alexander. Age 40 as of summer 2016.
Update 10-23-18: Mr. Graves is still at Victorville Medium I FCI with an unchanged release date of 12/24/2043. Just 25 years and a couple months to go. His current age is 42, which means he will be 67 years old on his scheduled release date.
I’m not quite sure I understand why he would be at a medium security prison. I obviously don’t understand these things, but seems to me that a drug distribution conviction and five trafficking convictions would land him in a higher security facility.
Same article. Different agenda. Different headline.
On to the article…
One County Commissioner says the current facility will be sufficient if it’s upgraded. Airport Director says upgrades to comply with FAA standards would be something in the range of $240M to $350M. At best it would cost as much to upgrade the current facility as it would to build a new airport.
Another county commissioner says the airport is not needed “right now” and therefore shouldn’t be built.
A recurring human foible I see is making an assumption that the immediate past trends will continue in a straight line forever.
In the context of crude oil in general and western North Dakota in particular, the question is whether the slump of the last year will continue for an indefinite period of time (measured in years or even decades) or will there be surges in production at various points?
City officials in Williston give every indication of thinking that the boom is over and will never return. Seems like they are preparing for life in the city and surrounding area to have current level of employment plus only slow growth for decades.
I think that reasoning is why there is opposition from public officials to expanding the airport. Why spend any money on a new airport when you don’t need the extra capacity this afternoon and for the rest of the week? There is no reason to go through all the effort of tearing up farmland when the current airport is sufficient for traffic this month. There are open seats on flight to Minneapolis. Why, I’ll bet the airlines could even add a flight or two if they actually get more customers.
Why not chase all the crew camp facilities out of town? They are not needed. There is enough capacity in apartments and hotels to absorb the number of people who are in crew camps this month, so what purpose is there for ever again having any crew camp capacity in the city? Just force the temporary workers who don’t know how long they will be in the area to sign a one-year lease and everything will be fine. In the alternative, they can just stay in hotel that will only cost $3,000 or $3,500 or more per month. Problem solved.
If you assume that oil prices will stay where they are today for the next several decades and if you assume the number of rigs in North Dakota will stay in the range of 20 or 30 or 40 for a decade or two then you should plan for a city with population at about the current level.
If you assume the trends of the last 12 months will continue for decades, then there is no need for new facilities.
The fight over whether to shut down all man camps in Williston isn’t over.
3/19 – Bismarck Tribune – Man camp operators will fight back – The Williston city officials will have a second read of an ordinance to force all man camp operators within their reach to shut down. Target Logistics has dropped into the discussion a threat to sue if the city doesn’t give them more time to close down in an orderly manner.
The core argument is made yet again through an interview with a rotational crew worker. He works two weeks straight and then has two weeks off. Working twelve hours a day, plus time to get ready in the morning and turn in at night leaves little time to prepare food or do laundry.
The city of Williston has voted down a compromise plan that would have allowed man camps to continue within the city and the one-mile reach beyond city limits. Unfortunately, this issue illustrates one dark side of capitalism: the tendency towards cronyism, or insisting the government intervene to protect you from competition or demanding that the government give you special favors.
Bruce Oksol, of The Million Dollar Way, reports on his observations during his frequent trips to Williston. Comments from his February trip, with a few of my comments on his comments:
2/6 – First Day Back in the Bakken – Construction on the bridge across the Missouri seems to have stopped. By-pass on the west side of town is complete. He senses less oil rig traffic, Wal-mart is not as full as during the boom, but still quite busy, and less cars in the parking lots of nicer hotels. Restaurants are busy, but not anywhere like during the boom.
1/18 – Energy Media Group at Bakken.com – 5 oil full job still in demand in 2016 – Even with the drop off in drilling, there are five areas in which you can still find a job if you have the skill sets.
Article says those jobs are drivers with CDL, operators, production foremen, drillers, and field technicians.
Keep in mind the comment I’ve seen repeatedly that each producing well creates essentially one full-time job.
1/26 – Bismarck Tribune – Strip clubs receive second reading– The meaning of that headline is that rules to ban strip clubs from the downtown area were considered for the second time by the Williston city commissioners. City rules require considering a motion twice before it is considered approved. Second look at the rule resulted in unanimous approval.
If you let an economy function, market forces will create pressures to smooth things out. The forces of supply and demand have an amazing ability to balance a temporarily unbalanced marketplace. Several recent articles illustrate this concept in North Dakota.
11/17 – Amy Dalrymple at Dickinson Press – Pipelines now outpacing trucks for gathering Bakken oil– After oil is pulled on the ground it needs to be moved from the well pad to either a rail-loading terminal where it leaves the state by rail or it gets moved to a major transmission pipeline where it leaves the state by pipe.
The oil is initially moved by either trucks or underground pipes.
The number of small gathering pipelines to carry oil away from the wells is finally large enough that more oil is moved by gathering pipelines than by trucks.
The Williston city commissioners have moved forward with their plan to shut down man camps and throw housing business to the hotels and apartments in town.
11/24 – Amy Dalrymple at Oil Patch Dispatch – Compromise possible for Williston crew camps– On 11/24 the commissioners held their ‘second reading’ and voted 3-2 to eliminate all crew camps within the city and their one-mile extraterritorial reach. That means all man camps they can touch will have to be closed by June 30, 2016.
Oil companies say they need temporary housing for workers that cycle in to the area for short or unknown lengths of time.
The mayor indicates there might be some room for some sort of compromise.
Move would shut housing with 3,600 beds. Target Logistics, with a large camp on the north side of town, is currently 70% occupied.
Oil executives said there is still a need for temporary housing for crews that move around based on where they need to work this week or this month. Their concern is workers will leave the area for a location with stable temporary housing.
Apartment owners are concerned about prices dropping and not as many tenants renting.
The Bismarck Tribune has a good article on the new Williston airport, which is being built outside of town and will handle medium-sized jets. It will replace the current airport, which is in town and has a runway that can only handle smaller regional jets. I picture a runway that can handle 150 passenger jets versus a runway limited to jets that can carry 50 passengers, like the CRJ above.
Two county commissioners don’t see any reason to build the new airport.
City of Williston may likely vote this week to close all man camps within their jurisdiction. Dramatically reducing supply of housing will have the obvious impact of driving up prices. Keep in mind that is a choice of the local government.
Heat is what caused two derailments in Montana back in July. Not the oil that was on board.
Major construction work on Main street is finished.