Saturday, March 3, 2012

...And I'm bakk!

It's been a few months, but I should be blogging regularly once again.  First things first, I no longer work in Williston.  In December, I found permanent work in Minot, ND, which is a city of about 50,000 on the eastern border of the Bakken, 120 mi east of Williston.  This was the closest city that I could relocate my family to when I first found work in Williston.  It's a thriving city that has super low unemployment right now, just like Williston, but still has housing available.  That's not to say the rental prices are cheap; on the contrary, I know people who are paying $1700/mo. for a single wide trailer.  But unlike Williston, this place doesn't have the six month waiting lists for apartments. 

On my first week off from Sanjel, back in December, I applied to a couple law firms here in Minot, and literally received offers the same day.  This is compared to the 6-12 month negotiations for positions with a firm back out east.   So now I've traded in my overalls and fresh air for a suit and working indoors.  I must admit, though, that I did have to take a bit of a pay cut to return to the office.  On an hourly basis, I make more now.  But, I only work 40 hrs/wk, so compared to 60-70 hrs/wk I was averaging before, it totals a little less.  That should change, though, over time as I progress in my career.

Take What You Need, Look For What You Want
When I was back in Williston, a leader in my church there said to me something that seems to be the motto for guys moving to the Bakken: "Take what you need, and look for what you want."  This was inspiring, since in the rest of the country, since the beginning of the recession, it's only been "Take what you utterly have to."  In every city in the Bakken, and generally across the entire state, there are much more jobs than people.  Oil field service companies are still hiring in droves, but there's also a housing shortage of crisis proportions, especially here in Minot, where a flood last summer destroyed a few thousand homes, so there's expected to be a housing boom across the Bakken this summer.  Every out-of-work guy displaced by the recession should grab his tool belt and head up here by May, cause he'll be able to name his price and work as much as he wants.  Government, too, continue to go unfilled.  Obviously, they can't compete on wages with the private sector, but for young professionals wanting to begin a career or older professionals not able to find employment elsewhere, there's plenty of vacant positions.  And don't let the higher cost of living deter.  Because of the housing crisis, the state housing authority covers much of the cost of rent for those who's monthly rent exceeds 30% of their monthly income.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Big news this week out of the Bakken...

I can't believe I missed this one last week.  Brigham Exploration, the company mentioned in the New Yorker article last spring, and one of the early players in the Bakken (and I mean players; these guys bet the house) just sold to Norway's sovereign oil company Statoil for $4.4 billion.  Here's the article.  The article's concluding paragraph is noteworthy:

"Expectations are that North Dakota will move ahead of Alaska and California in annual oil production. That would put North Dakota behind only Texas...The sale of Brigham Exploration suggests the state's entering a new phase in the development of its petroleum resources, a shift from high-risk exploration and speculation to sustained long-term production."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Even the UK papers are taking notice of the Bakken...

Here's a link today from the Telegraph, a UK newspaper.  It mentions US shale oil development as one of the driving factors that could expel the US from its current economic doldrums.  The following line is worth repeating: 'Total US shale output [mostly from the Bakken fields in North Dakota, Eagle Ford in Texas, and other reserves across the Mid-West] is "set to expand dramatically" as fresh sources come on stream, possibly reaching 5.5m b/d by mid-decade. This is a tenfold rise since 2009.'

The more I read, the more I believe that this is a phenomenal industry to get into.  Those who get with a company now will be rewarded in the short and long term.  My favorite professor in my undergraduate program, who taught International Finance, exhorted our class on the last day of the course to get with a company during the early growth phase, not at the peak, and definitely not when it's contracting.  Oil shale is definitely in that early growth phase...and it's looking to go a long way up.

(Another article on the Bakken appeared this weekend at

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Coil Tubing and Fracking Videos

Click on this link.  Then click the videos on the left-hand side.

The adventure continues...

Since I had to wait till Oct. 17 to start my job with Sanjel, for the last two weeks I have been in FL with my family, staying at my parents' place.  Sanjel flew me out to San Antonio, TX today in order to start my one month training.  They paid for the flight, hotel (Marriott), and picked me up in a Lincoln Town car.  Not bad treatment for a new hire, especially in this economy.

On the ride over, I was telling the driver about my recent situation.  He said he was very impressed that I would do what it takes to provide for my family.  He recounted how his friend, who is out of work, refuses to take any work beneath him, like driving a taxi, and is content living on the government dole.  This same friend also occasionally comes to the driver asking for financial help.  This account, unfortunately, characterizes many of the currently unemployed.

That's all for now.  Just wanted to give an update.  I'm going to head out to the pool and jacuzzi for a bit.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Williston Local Websites

Here's some good local online resources for Williston economic and social news:

1.  Williston Wire - This is a weekly wire of Williston area economic news put out by Williston Economic Development.

2.  Williston Life and Williston ND -  Sites about what life is like in Williston, put out by the local Williston Area Development Foundation.

3. Rockin the Bakken - a site about the Bakken oil shale formation.