Many of the profiles of oil workers follow the same narrative. Often, they have debt they need to clear, or have been unable to find a job where they are from, and have decided to move out to the oil fields to make money. Some consistent themes the profiles follow are the rhythms of work and home – 20 days in North Dakota working 12-20 hours a day, 10 days at home.
Another theme is the struggle with depression many of the workers have. They don’t like the place, they are nowhere near anyone they love, there is nothing to do when you aren’t working, everyone is looking out for themselves.
This is a good video with a couple worker profiles.
“Oil field wives”
Kind of like military wives. Moving their families along with their husbands who are following work. I have seen several instances of the Oil field wives forming organized groups which serve as a way to create community, support, etc…
There are many people who live in NW ND communities who are not associated with the oil work. They may or may not be embedded in the community, but a common issue for them is that their wages are not nearly as high as the oil workers. Many landlords are price gouging, and as a result lots of non-oilfield workers are being squeezed out of their housing. Below is a quote from someone like that.
“This is just a word of advice to people who are potentially thinking of coming to Dickinson; don’t do it unless you are in the oil field or supporting the oil field jobs. For the simple folks who work at the schools, restaurants, stores and such, it’s just not worth it. Both myself and husband have decent jobs but we simply cannot make it here due to the greedy local landlords trying to capitalize on this boom. I work two jobs and my spouse works one, although it is fair money with good benefits we can’t make it here anymore. After one year of struggling here, we have to give them up and go home to an impoverished area with no employment whatsoever. I find this to be ridiculous and heart-wrenching. Shame on the gougers of this area, taking every penny one makes just to have a place to live. We are so much further in debt than when we came out here…. So in closing, all I can say is beware, this is a very hostile, money hungry, disrespectful, no rights-for-tenants town. How disappointing this area has become. I am sure at one time this was a wonderful community that one could make a living at and be proud to be a member of this town that cared about their people. After speaking to several senior citizens, I find it terrible that they fear for their own housing and are also being forced to leave their own homes after being here their whole life. Shame on the greed. Thank you for listening to my story.” – Lori Patrick
– See more at: http://freshmojo.areavoices.com/#sthash.EMIdOB5E.dpuf
Obviously, there are many different types of locals, but the quote below sums up how many of them feel about the boom:
“I live an hour outside of Dickinson — Right now, you have to prepay for gas at any gas station west of, and including at Dickinson. This is pretty normal for a lot of places in the country, but it’s completely unheard of in this state, until now. That by itself isn’t that bad, but it’s indicative of a lot of other problems.
I mean no offense to OP, It’s certainly not his fault, but the Oil boom, and the people it has brought in have absolutely destroyed the State in more ways than one. The western third is a wasteland of crime and garbage and shit, and it will be like that for decades. It’s destroyed my homeland and no one cares. It’s a hard pill to swallow.”
Local Land Owners
Not all land owners also own their mineral rights, and many who did sold them off during difficult times. Those who retained the mineral rights are profiting significantly from the oil development on their land.
Local Government officials
A common phrase I have heard or read coming from local officials is something like this: “I know change is good, but I wish that it would slow down a little bit.” A common problem is that there are so many new people in town and there is an intense need to increase the capacity of the infrastructure. Many officials are worried about this, because in the last boom during the early 1980s, municipalities overextended themselves in terms of investing in infrastructure, and when the bust happened, they had a lot of financial issues with not getting any return on the infrastructural investments that they had made.
Native Groups / Reservations
Many of these groups are happy about the new revenue the oilfields are bringing, but worried because they don’t have the framework in place to deal with the ecological hazards and disasters which are common with oil work. A common thread with many of these people is the importance of keeping their land healthy for generations to come.