New Boom Reshapes Oil World, Rocks North Dakota

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    Sep 27, 2011 2:19 PM GMT
    A boom that's creating jobs that some environmentalists couldn't be less happy with - though there are days when I wonder if they want jobs that fuel any form of consumption.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/09/25/140784004/new-boom-reshapes-oil-world-rocks-north-dakota?ft=1&f=1003

    Two years ago, America was importing about two thirds of its oil. Today, according to the Energy Information Administration, it imports less than half. And by 2017, investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts the US could be poised to pass Saudi Arabia and overtake Russia as the world's largest oil producer.

    [...]

    Amy Myers Jaffe of Rice University says in the next decade, new oil in the US, Canada and South America could change the center of gravity of the entire global energy supply.

    "Some are now saying, in five or 10 years' time, we're a major oil-producing region, where our production is going up," she says.

    The US, Jaffe says, could have 2 trillion barrels of oil waiting to be drilled. South America could hold another 2 trillion. And Canada? 2.4 trillion. That's compared to just 1.2 trillion in the Middle East and north Africa.

    Jaffe says those new oil reserves, combined with growing turmoil in the Middle East, will "absolutely propel more and more investment into the energy resources in the Americas."

    Russia is already feeling the growth of American energy, Jaffe says. As the U.S. produces more of its own natural gas, Europe is free to purchase liquefied natural gas the US is no longer buying.

    "They're buying less natural gas from Russia," Jaffe says. "So Russia would only supply 10 percent of European natural gas demand by 2030. That means the Russians are no longer powerful."

    The American energy boom, Jaffe says, could endanger many green-energy initiatives that have gained popularity in recent years. But royalties and revenue from U.S. production of oil and natural gas, she adds, could be used to invest in improving green technology.

    "We don't have the commercial technology now," she says, noting the recent bankruptcy of American solar companies like Solyndra.

    "The point is you can't force a technology that's not commercial. Rather than subsidize things that are not going to be competitive, we need to actually use that money to do R&D to create technologies — the same way that the industries created these technologies to produce natural gas and it turned out so commercially successful."
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    Sep 27, 2011 3:52 PM GMT
    Plus it’s estimated that there are another 1.7 to 2.5 trillion barrels in the Green River Valley north of Grand Junction. That alone at are current consumption rate of 19,000,000 million barrel per day would give us around 300 years of supply.
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    Sep 27, 2011 3:53 PM GMT

    Some environmentalists - let's keep thing precise.
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    Sep 27, 2011 3:54 PM GMT
    meninlove said
    Some environmentalists - let's keep thing precise.


    Noted, and revised.
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    Sep 27, 2011 4:11 PM GMT
    I lived in North Dakota a total of 11 years, at 2 different times. I've been to Williston many times, mentioned in the link (and I have some silly stories from those visits), and the western half of the State has been drilling oil for decades. It's been boom or bust before, depending on the price of oil. But you can drive through there and see pumpjacks everywhere, as I first did nearly 30 years ago. This is not new, just another boom that actually started several years ago, when oil prices skyrocketed.

    300px-Pump_Jack.jpg
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    Sep 27, 2011 4:23 PM GMT
    Art_Deco saidI lived in North Dakota a total of 11 years, at 2 different times. I've been to Williston many times, mentioned in the link (and I have some silly stories from those visits), and the western half of the State has been drilling oil for decades. It's been boom or bust before, depending on the price of oil. But you can drive through there and see pumpjacks everywhere, as I first did nearly 30 years ago. This is not new, just another boom that actually started several years ago, when oil prices skyrocketed.

    300px-Pump_Jack.jpg


    Around 2007 this really got going in earnest. You got to be at over $32 a barrel to make the extraction from oil shale feasible. Happy to see it here versus gold plated cities in Saudi Arabia or Dubai.
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    Sep 27, 2011 4:42 PM GMT
    freedomisntfree said
    Art_Deco saidI lived in North Dakota a total of 11 years, at 2 different times. I've been to Williston many times, mentioned in the link (and I have some silly stories from those visits), and the western half of the State has been drilling oil for decades. It's been boom or bust before, depending on the price of oil. But you can drive through there and see pumpjacks everywhere, as I first did nearly 30 years ago. This is not new, just another boom that actually started several years ago, when oil prices skyrocketed.

    300px-Pump_Jack.jpg

    Around 2007 this really got going in earnest. You got to be at over $32 a barrel to make the extraction from oil shale feasible. Happy to see it here versus gold plated cities in Saudi Arabia or Dubai.

    You are correct, but curious how you know these things. Very few people know anything about North Dakota.

    Actually the trigger for intensified ND oil production is well over $50 USD a barrel, because transportation issues to the barren western half of the State, through the Badlands, are also a factor. As are labor costs, to get workers to go out there, in conditions that almost mirror northern Alaska.

    There are ND counties that, per the US census, are designated as "Frontier" because less than 2 people per square mile reside there. Now that's barren, and why oil companies have to build barracks, as shown in this article, because there isn't enough local housing to accommodate them.

    Nor anything else to interest or occupy the workers. The nearest "major" city is Minot, with a USAF base, which I also know well, upwards of 100 miles away from some oil fields, on 2-lane roads that in Winter can become shut down. But I'm glad for North Dakota, one of the things that gives them low unemployment, and a healthy State budget.
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    Sep 27, 2011 5:44 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    freedomisntfree said
    Art_Deco saidI lived in North Dakota a total of 11 years, at 2 different times. I've been to Williston many times, mentioned in the link (and I have some silly stories from those visits), and the western half of the State has been drilling oil for decades. It's been boom or bust before, depending on the price of oil. But you can drive through there and see pumpjacks everywhere, as I first did nearly 30 years ago. This is not new, just another boom that actually started several years ago, when oil prices skyrocketed.

    300px-Pump_Jack.jpg

    Around 2007 this really got going in earnest. You got to be at over $32 a barrel to make the extraction from oil shale feasible. Happy to see it here versus gold plated cities in Saudi Arabia or Dubai.

    You are correct, but curious how you know these things. Very few people know anything about North Dakota.

    Actually the trigger for intensified ND oil production is well over $50 USD a barrel, because transportation issues to the barren western half of the State, through the Badlands, are also a factor. As are labor costs, to get workers to go out there, in conditions that almost mirror northern Alaska.

    There are ND counties that, per the US census, are designated as "Frontier" because less than 2 people per square mile reside there. Now that's barren, and why oil companies have to build barracks, as shown in this article, because there isn't enough local housing to accommodate them.

    Nor anything else to interest or occupy the workers. The nearest "major" city is Minot, with a USAF base, which I also know well, upwards of 100 miles away from some oil fields, on 2-lane roads that in Winter can become shut down. But I'm glad for North Dakota, one of the things that gives them low unemployment, and a healthy State budget.


    That's true; my $32 per barrel figure is rather old and applied to what I was talking about in western Colorado. I wouldn’t think Grand Junction would be much cheaper in terms of transportation costs, but a nice infrastructure has built up in Grand Junction to house and feed everyone.

    Edit: I've done route 2 from Thunder Bay out to Glacier several times plus I-94 from twin cities to I-90 and then I-15 and to Great Falls, MT. Best way is State Route 200 right through the middle of Montana. And best time is right before they harvest the wheat.
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    Sep 27, 2011 6:18 PM GMT
    OK, a silly North Dakota story about Williston, a town featured in this article, that I can't resist.

    So I was out there, visiting Williston State College as I often did, which offered 2-year Associate Degrees, and is affiliated with the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks, where I was the Assistant Registrar at the time. My task was to help students to transfer their programs to UND for a full 4-year program and a Bachelors Degree.

    Now Williston is right on the state border with Montana, really in the middle of nowhere. And I was staying in a small motel, that nevertheless had a "casino" under North Dakota law, mainly consisting of a few 21 tables, and a few pull-tab machines. In order to get a State license some of the proceeds had to benefit a sponsored non-profit group, which was a nice law.

    And so they had a bar, despite their small size, at which I ordered a martini. Now being an ex-New Yorker, who'd been accustomed to just saying "martini" and getting exactly what I wanted in the City, I'd lived elsewhere in enough of the US to know I had to specify what I wanted in detail.

    "A gin martini, please, straight up with olives, no twist."

    The bartender presented me with a squat water glass, filled with ice. I took a sip, and tasted vodka.

    "This isn't what I ordered, it's vodka on the rocks"

    "You asked for a martini, and that's what you got," was the snotty reply.

    "But this isn't a martini," I protested, "It's vodka on the rocks."

    "A martini IS vodka on the rocks."

    "Yeah, but I specifically asked for gin, straight up. That's not what this is."

    "Look, you asked for a martini, and that's what you got. I ain't taking it back."

    I learned the lesson that there are parts of the US where you don't attempt to order a martini. Especially in western North Dakota around Williston, where a cocktail is when a beer is served in a glass.

    Still, I remain fond of North Dakota. And when it came to gin martinis, I simply learned to just make my own at home.
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    Sep 27, 2011 6:29 PM GMT
    I'm looking through my old online photos to see if I can figure where we stayed in Williston.
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    Sep 27, 2011 6:32 PM GMT
    freedomisntfree saidI'm looking through my old online photos to see if I can figure where we stayed in Williston.

    Well you don't have a lot of choices.
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    Sep 27, 2011 6:43 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    freedomisntfree saidI'm looking through my old online photos to see if I can figure where we stayed in Williston.

    Well you don't have a lot of choices.


    I've driven through there several times, but we've only stayed there once. We didn't drink that night so we would feel good for the drive through Montana the next day. I frankly love it out there - the further out in the sticks I can get the better.
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    Sep 27, 2011 6:56 PM GMT
    freedomisntfree said
    Art_Deco said
    freedomisntfree saidI'm looking through my old online photos to see if I can figure where we stayed in Williston.

    Well you don't have a lot of choices.

    I've driven through there several times, but we've only stayed there once. We didn't drink that night so we would feel good for the drive through Montana the next day. I frankly love it out there - the further out in the sticks I can get the better.

    Well, a Travel Host or a Super 8, perhaps. Real econo stuff, all they have. But even those have these little mini-casinos inside them.

    If you were driving along US 2 you might have seen some pumpjacks. But they're mostly on branching local roads, like if you were to drive up to Bottineau off US 2, as I often did, where another small State college is located.
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    Sep 27, 2011 7:16 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    freedomisntfree said
    Art_Deco said
    freedomisntfree saidI'm looking through my old online photos to see if I can figure where we stayed in Williston.

    Well you don't have a lot of choices.

    I've driven through there several times, but we've only stayed there once. We didn't drink that night so we would feel good for the drive through Montana the next day. I frankly love it out there - the further out in the sticks I can get the better.

    Well, a Travel Host or a Super 8, perhaps. Real econo stuff, all they have. But even those have these little mini-casinos inside them.

    If you were driving along US 2 you might have seen some pumpjacks. But they're mostly on branching local roads, like if you were to drive up to Bottineau off US 2, as I often did, where another small State college is located.


    Sure, I have, but yes off on the side roads

    Have you ever done route 200 right through the middle of Montana in late August or very early Sept before the wheat harvest? And I mean from Glendive to Lewiston?

    It was one of the few roads in Montana where I didn't want to drive really fast as I wanted the experience to last as long as possible.
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    Sep 27, 2011 8:05 PM GMT
    freedomisntfree saidHave you ever done route 200 right through the middle of Montana in late August or very early Sept before the wheat harvest? And I mean from Glendive to Lewiston?

    It was one of the few roads in Montana where I didn't want to drive really fast as I wanted the experience to last as long as possible.

    Lewiston or Lewistown? But in either case no, never there. Passed through Glendive on the Interstate many times, I think I even stayed there. But never took 200.
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    Sep 27, 2011 8:17 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    freedomisntfree saidHave you ever done route 200 right through the middle of Montana in late August or very early Sept before the wheat harvest? And I mean from Glendive to Lewiston?

    It was one of the few roads in Montana where I didn't want to drive really fast as I wanted the experience to last as long as possible.

    Lewiston or Lewistown? But in either case no, never there. Passed through Glendive on the Interstate many times, I think I even stayed there. But never took 200.


    Lewistown.

    Last time Cary and I came back across the country, I read something somewhere about America's loneliest highways and route 200 was on the list. It was very much worth it except that I wanted the drive to last forever. It was all new for Cary, but I had been across the country 50 times or more by car, so I wanted to make some of it new for me too.

    I think we stayed in Glendive the night before. We were headed up here.

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    Sep 27, 2011 8:48 PM GMT
    freedomisntfree saidI think we stayed in Glendive the night before. We were headed up here.

    I wanna think it was 1998, and I was heading west out of North Dakota on my Italian Moto Guzzi motorcycle. Taking I-90, which was unusual for me to ride the Interstate, but I had to return to Seattle soon. The same bike I had bought here in Fort Lauderdale in 1997, and ridden 4700 miles solo back to Seattle, where I was living.

    And traveling west I saw this wall of black clouds ahead of me. I didn't want to call it a day so soon, just late afternoon, but it didn't look good. So I pulled off at an exit, I think seeing a Holiday Inn sign at Glendive.


    Whatever it was I stayed there, much too early for me. So I had dinner, and then spent a couple of hours at the bar, trying to make myself sleepy. Mostly Kahula & Creams if I remember correctly, a good nightcap for me. And looking around for promising guys, but not surprisingly seeing none. My Glendive experience was not notable, just another bland stop on a US highway. icon_sad.gif