Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We All Write and Some of Us Are Very Talented

Wildcatting: A Stripper’s Guide to the Modern American Boomtown

Oil is rarely in pretty places. It is under the ground in the kinds of charmless places no one would visit if there wasn’t some valuable natural resource to extract. And yet at some point, westward-bound pioneers came through here and thought, Yeah. Flat. Cold. Dry. Dusty. This is the place to settle. It’s more likely, maybe, that they thought, No one will bother me here. Or even, maybe, I deserve this. You can see how no one would give a fuck about letting Halliburton, Nabors, Exxon, and Chevron tear up acres of prairie. Not once did I ever hear a Williston resident or worker mention anything about the dangers of fracking, which is not to say that there haven’t been concerns. With great understatement, a Reuters article about the groundbreaking for a refinery said, “The state has one of the lowest population densities in the United States and has little of the political, environmental or community opposition that’s helped scuttle all other refinery projects since Jimmy Carter was president.”

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The oil leaves North Dakota and so does the money. It’s funny to think about what a minuscule, tiny, insignificant fraction I’ve made out there, even though it amounted to a respectable year’s worth over a total of 16 work weeks. So little of the wealth that is being generated is going to stay there. The corporations making the real money in the Bakken aren’t based in North Dakota. Their executives are in no hurry to relocate there either. They can leave and still have jobs, though, unlike the oil field workers.