March 29, 2012. Bismarck. It has one of the smallest populations of all the states at only 684,000 and 80,000 of those are American Indians, many living on sovereign reservations. It has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 3.2 percent. It has the fastest rate of job growth. And entire companies are picking up from across the US and moving lock, stock and barrel to the area. The state is North Dakota, not one of America’s most popular states. So what is single-handedly changing the dynamic and make-up of an entire state? Oil!
US on-shore oil deposits.
For starters, we at Whiteout Press would first like to say that when it comes to oil in North Dakota, the true facts and statistics are more difficult to find than one might think. It appears that the oil rush in the northern Dakotas is happening so fast, at such large volumes and with less than ethical players, that it’s almost impossible to discover the facts. With that said, there are a number of individuals, environmental groups, politicians and oil companies that will tell you almost anything to get you to take their side of the debate.
The environmental side
It was only in the past day or two that Rachel Maddow pointed out on her MSNBC show that the estimated amount of oil in North Dakota had been greatly and officially reduced. How such faulty numbers could have been initially published, she did not say. At the same time, Stephen Colbert had actor Mark Ruffalo on his show The Colbert Report last night. There, they discussed the devastating effects of oil drilling and gas fracking to the environment. Ruffalo conjured up images of devastated, barren wastelands due to increased drilling and fracking. Some of his detractors simply suggest, ‘It’s North Dakota. That’s how it looked before the drilling’.
The oil and gas side
Supporters of oil drilling and gas mining in the Dakotas insist that the amount of money that can be made, the jobs that are being created and the lessening of dependence on foreign oil, more than offset the environmental damage drilling and fracking are doing.
According to the US Geological Survey, the area causing both celebrations, as well as protests, is the Bakken Shale Formation, also known as the Williston Basin Province. The USGS explains, “The Upper Devonian-Lower Mississippian Bakken Formation is a thin but widespread unit within the central and deeper portions of the Williston Basin in Montana, North Dakota, and the Canadian Provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.”
The USGS also explains why the area has such an abundance of oil and natural gas. As the agency reports, the land making up the Bakken Shale Formation has three distinct layers. On top is a shale rock layer. The middle layer of ground is sandstone. And below the sandstone is more shale rock. And while both shale rock layers contain petroleum, it’s the sandstone’s “porosity” that adds to its ability to store large amounts of oil and gas. Drilling and fracturing the rock is the only way to get to the natural resources.
According to the US Geological Survey, the Bakken Shale Formation in North Dakota, Montana and the two Canadian provinces contains, “undiscovered volumes of 3.65 billion barrels of oil, 1.85 trillion cubic feet of associated/dissolved natural gas, and 148 million barrels of natural gas liquids.”
One promotional piece sent to Whiteout Press tells the current story of a company called Cruz Construction. The company specializing in mining and drilling-related construction had most of its resources in Alaska up until six months ago. Since then, the story describes the construction company of not being able to get machinery and work crews out of Alaska and into North Dakota fast enough.
The flier reads:
‘As you may know, Cruz Construction started a division in North Dakota just 6 months ago. They sent every Kenworth (9 trucks) they had in Alaska to North Dakota and several drivers. They just bought two new Kenworth’s to add to that fleet; one being a Tri-Drive tractor and a new 65 ton lowboy to go with it. They also bought two new cranes (one crawler & one rubber tired) for that division.
Dave Cruz said they have moved more rigs in the last 6 months in ND than Cruz Construction moved in Alaska in the last 6 years. Williston is like a gold rush town; they moved one of our 40 man camps down there since there are no rooms available.
Unemployment in ND is the lowest in the nation at 3.4 percent last I checked. See anything in the national news about how the oil industry is fueling North Dakota ‘s economy? Here’s an astonishing read. Important and verifiable information, ‘About 6 months ago, the writer was watching a news program on oil and one of the Forbes Bros. was the guest. The host said to Forbes, “I am going to ask you a direct question and I would like a direct answer; how much oil does the US have in the ground?” Forbes did not miss a beat, he said, “more than all the Middle East put together.”’
The US Geological Service issued a report in April 2008 that only scientists and oil men knew was coming, but man was it big. It was a revised report (hadn’t been updated since 1995) on how much oil was in this area of the western 2/3 of North Dakota , western South Dakota , and extreme eastern Montana.
The Bakken is the largest domestic oil discovery since Alaska ‘s Prudhoe Bay and has the potential to eliminate all American dependence on foreign oil. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates it at 503 billion barrels. Even if just 10% of the oil is recoverable (5 billion barrels), at $107 a barrel, we’re looking at a resource base worth more than $5.3 trillion.
For years, US oil exploration has been considered a dead end. Even the ‘Big Oil’ companies gave up searching for major oil wells decades ago. However, a recent technological breakthrough has opened up the Bakken’s massive reserves, and we now have access of up to 500 billion barrels. And because this is light, sweet oil, those billions of barrels will cost Americans just $16 PER BARREL! That’s enough crude to fully fuel the American economy for 2041 years straight.
Hidden 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the Rocky Mountains lies the largest untapped oil reserve in the world. It is more than 2 trillion barrels. On August 8, 2005 President Bush mandated its extraction. In three and a half years of high oil prices none has been extracted. With this motherload of oil why are we still fighting over off-shore drilling?
We have more oil inside our borders, than all the other proven reserves on earth. Here are the official estimates – 8 times as much oil as Saudi Arabia, 18 times as much oil as Iraq, 21 times as much oil as Kuwait, 22 times as much oil as Iran, 500 times as much oil as Yemen and it’s all right here in the Western United States!
How can this be? How can we not be extracting this? Because the environmentalists and others have blocked all efforts to help America become independent of foreign oil! Again, we are letting a small group of people dictate our lives and our economy. Why?
James Bartis, lead researcher with the study says we’ve got more oil in this very compact area than the entire Middle East, more than 2 trillion barrels untapped. That’s more than all the proven oil reserves of crude oil in the world today, reports The Denver Post.
Don’t think ‘OPEC’ will drop its price even with this find? Think again. It’s all about the competitive marketplace, it has to. Think OPEC just might be funding the environmentalists? Got your attention yet?”
That’s how the pro-oil promotional flier read that was sent to Whiteout Press. As readers can see, the oil industry and its supporters have set their sites on environmental groups. And vice versa. They’ve even gone so far as to accuse environmentalists of being paid-off by OPEC nations to fight against oil drilling in North Dakota. One must assume that includes actor Mark Ruffalo and Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report last night. The amount of oil has also magically jumped from 3.6 billion barrels of oil in the Bakken Formation to 2 trillion barrels.
Aside from the environmental after-effects mining and fracking for oil and natural gas create, no one can argue any longer with the widely unbelieved accusation that the technique called fracking causes earthquakes. That fact has been proven time and again. Read the Whiteout Press article, ‘States knew Fracking causes Earthquakes’ for details.
Regardless of which side readers are on concerning the explosion in oil and gas drilling in the Bakken region, all must be aware that the stakes have risen so high – financially, politically, environmentally – that some activists on both sides are using less than honest statistics, tactics and history to persuade supporters to their side of the fight. Here at Whiteout Press, we’ll continue to do our best to bring you both sides of the story, or if we can get our hands on it, the truth.
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