Archive for July 21st, 2013

Bakken and Beyond

by lizard

The development of the Bakken formation is visible from space. The boom is on, and people are benefiting. From the link:

This oil rush is so sudden, so enormous, North Dakota now has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. More than 41,000 workers got jobs there between 2008 and 2012. Only seven years ago, the U.S. was importing 60 percent of its oil. Now imports are down to 42 percent. The Bakken fields are helping to improve energy security.

Hoping to also benefit, the city of Missoula spent 500,000 dollars to figure out how to make money from the Kuwait of the prairie. From the link:

Missoula’s economy is poised to take advantage of opportunities in the Bakken, according to the Missoula Economic Partnership.

“We’re kind of positioning Missoula as the entry point, surprisingly enough, to the Bakken,” president James Grunke said last week to members of the Missoula City Council.

Initiated by Mayor John Engen after the economy crashed, the Missoula Economic Partnership works on economic development. The city of Missoula invested $500,000 in the program when it launched in 2011, and Wednesday, Grunke and the MEP’s director of business development shared several updates with members of the council.

Grunke kicked off his report touting the opportunities in the Bakken, noting its potential despite being hundreds of miles away. The oil fields are of interest statewide, he said, and servicing the Bakken on the manufacturing front requires being several hundred miles away to tap an available workforce.

Also reportedly servicing the Bakken, on the trafficking front, Mexican drug cartels:

GLENDIVE – Jails in the Bakken area are overbooked and law enforcement is maxed out as drug-related crime surges in Montana and North Dakota oil patch communities.

Deputies, prosecutors and local drug counselors made the case Friday for more federal help during a Glendive meeting with federal drug czar R. Gil Kerlikowske and U.S. Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. All agreed that a massive influx of some 20,000 to 30,000 well-paid oilfield workers was bringing new criminal challenges to a region so rural it’s often characterized as frontier.

Asking for federal assistance should first begin with this question: to what degree is the federal government enabling certain cartel enterprises north of the border as a way to manage a war that won’t ever be won?

Demand for black market commodities, like meth, is fitting for a form of economic opportunity that causes so much ecological devastation.

For example, to the north, in Alberta, something very troubling is going on, something ‘no one understands‘:

Oil spills at a major oil sands operation in Alberta have been ongoing for at least six weeks and have cast doubts on the safety of underground extraction methods, according to documents obtained by the Star and a government scientist who has been on site.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has been unable to stop an underground oil blowout that has killed numerous animals and contaminated a lake, forest, and muskeg at its operations in Cold Lake, Alta.

The documents indicate that, since cleanup started in May, some 26,000 barrels of bitumen mixed with surface water have been removed, including more than 4,500 barrels of bitumen.

The scientist said Canadian Natural Resources is not disclosing the scope of spills in four separate sites, which have been off bounds to media and the public because the operations are on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, where there is active weapons testing by the Canadian military.

The company says it is effectively managing and cleaning up the spills.

Of course there is some anonymous scientist guy allegedly afraid of getting fired for saying this:

“Everybody (at the company and in government) is freaking out about this,” said the scientist. “We don’t understand what happened. Nobody really understands how to stop it from leaking, or if they do they haven’t put the measures into place.”

Why would a scientist fear retribution?

To answer that question, another must read from John Adams: Rep. Knudsen loses his job over bills that irked the oil and gas industry.

Austin Knudsen sounds like a Republican who was trying to do something positive for his constituents, and that sounds like the kind of Republican who might be even more motivated to oppose the bullying of an industry that fights any meager concessions communities try to nibble away from their bottom line.

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