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.

  1. JC

    Hal Herring had a good read in last week’s Indy about oil & gas development on the Front:

    “…there were oil-drilling rigs out there on the plain, lit up like Christmas trees, surrounded by a wash of halogen lights, a shaky set of bright headlights bucking down an access road. We’d seen the big pickups with Colorado plates at the ExxonMobil station in Choteau, noticed the piles of surveying stakes outside the Stage Stop Inn, overheard the talk of boom, lease fortunes and skyrocketing rents. We knew that modern energy development, or at least exploration, had arrived. But it wasn’t until we saw those glaring rigs lighting the night that we really understood what it meant.

    Many would say that the United States has become a more pragmatic nation since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I would say that we have lowered our expectations, abandoned our notions of efficiency and innovation, and instead accepted a model of short-term pillage and squander, not just of the energy resources with which we were blessed, but also of the landscapes that contain them. This is not an abstraction to me. I’ve seen it, and it is real…

    In a world of 7.5 billion souls and counting, in a nation that expects to add 100 million people in the next 30 years or so, all of them expecting to be warmed and fed and powered, we nature freaks, and those who associate solitude with freedom, face hard times ahead. The oil and gas may or may not lie beneath the prairies here. It may not even matter. The relentless eagerness with which so many of us, who live in this land and know it best, have embraced the quest to find the fossil fuels tells the truest, saddest story of our future.”

    If Missoula truly is being positioned as “the entry point” to Bakken and presumably Rocky Mt. Front development, it spells the end of the city many of us have come to call home. Of course, I’m sure that would please those who have come to hate it as a liberal bastion to the rest of the state’s pillaging heritage.

  2. Big Johansson

    Lets’ just say I like to beat up on the policies than caused Detroit’s decline.

    5 Bullet points.

    1) At this point, the city of Detroit owes money to more than 100,000 creditors.
    2) Detroit is facing $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities. That breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.
    3) Back in 1960, the city of Detroit actually had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.
    4) In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit. Today, there are less than 27,000.
    5) Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost.

    • Big Johansson

      Interesting to note that petro seeps occurs naturally in nature. From Wiki.

      “A petroleum seep is a place where natural liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons escape to the earth’s atmosphere and surface, normally under low pressure or flow. Seeps generally occur above either terrestrial or offshore petroleum accumulation structures.[1] The hydrocarbons may escape along geological layers, or across them through fractures and fissures in the rock, or directly from an outcrop of oil-bearing rock.
      Petroleum seeps are quite common in such areas of the world and have been known and exploited by mankind since paleolithic times. Natural products associated with these seeps include bitumen, pitch, asphalt and tar. The occurrence of petroleum was often included in location names that developed; these locations are also associated with early exploitation as well as scientific and technological developments, which have grown into the petroleum industry.”

      “Grown into the petro industry” would come to mean the first experimentation with oil came from exposed seeps in Pennsylvania Pennzoil anyone?

      • JC

        Yeah, there’s also naturally occurring tar pits. When you poke around in them you can find the remains of many extinct species. I think they’ve found some human bones in them too..

        Then there’s oil spills like BP’s in the Gulf a while back. There’s natural oil seeps there, too.

        We’ve also got volcanoes spewing vast quantities of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses. Natural radiation releases from uranium formations. Methane from tundra.

        What’s your point?

        • Big Swede

          You’re really that clueless?

          Seeps, on land or beneath the ocean, are Gaia’s gift to us mere mortals.

          These gifts are also her poison. She wants us to expel the poison from her crust and render it into conveniences like laptops and I-phones.

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