I have not posted anything to this blog for approximately six weeks. I have been very busy due to changes in Dickinson. Normally, there is a work slow-down in North Dakota from the beginning of December through the end of March. This normal work slow down did occur. It is difficult to perform different types of construction due to the ground freezing solid, due to concrete not being able to cure, and due to it being difficult to work outside when it is below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. I would estimate that approximately twenty-five percent of the out-of-state workers go home at this time of year.
For the out-of-state worker, if you are not working more than forty hours per week, the cost of rent is so high in Dickinson, that you would probably want to go home in the winter, you see most of your money going towards rent, you are not getting ahead financially, there is not a lot to do in Dickinson, it is miserably cold outside, so you go home. The long time residents of Dickinson say that the winter in North Dakota “keeps out the riff-raff”. I agree with them on this. I hate white-trash. The high cost of rent, the high cost of utilities, the severity of the cold and snow, the lack of work, makes it difficult to get by in the winter in North Dakota, and the white-trash leave here like rats from a sinking ship.
In addition to the normal winter work slow-down, there has been a second contributor to the work slow-down, the price of oil. Sometime in December, the price of oil went below $50 per barrel. The oil companies here in North Dakota such as Whiting, Marathon, and Continental, have calculated that when they can sell the North Dakota oil for more than $80 per barrel, they are making a profit. Once the price of North Dakota oil falls below $80 per barrel, to the oil companies, it’s like a car dealer selling a new car for less than it costs to manufacture it, they don’t want to do this, there is no point in pumping oil from the ground to sell it at a loss. People here in North Dakota and across the United States speculate on how this will affect employment. People that use sound logic and reasoning believe that under these circumstances, the oil companies will reduce the amount of oil that is pumped, and try to reduce costs wherever they can because they are not making a profit on the oil that is pumped. In the “Dickinson Press” newspaper in late January, there was a front page news story about the Patterson drilling company parking forty of its drill rigs on land outside of Dickinson because contracts for drilling new wells had declined. This newspaper story also cited another drilling company parking its drill rigs outside of Dickinson due to a slow down in drilling.
In national news, it was either Baker Hughes or Halliburton that announced they were laying off 7,000 people. Schlumberger announced that they were laying off 1,000 workers. Other oil industry companies announced lay-offs. My estimate is that the Baker Hughes and Schlumberger lay-offs will probably remove at least one hundred workers in Dickinson. Patterson drilling parking forty of their drill rigs will probably cost about four hundred jobs in Dickinson. The Dakota Prairie Refinery in Dickinson is just being completed, this project had employed more than several hundred people at any one time, and these people are going to be laid off now. When you add in the other drilling company that parked its drill rigs outside of Dickinson, just these companies mentioned in this paragraph will total about 1,000 jobs lost in Dickinson in January.
There are approximately six very large apartment communities that are just being completed in Dickinson, totaling approximately 1,000 new units. At this same time, I believe that there are at least 1,000 jobs that have been lost in Dickinson. It will be interesting to see what happens. If you have read some of my blog posts from 2014, you can see that much of what I wrote about, was that the oil boom that Dickinson had been experiencing presently, had happened before about thirty years ago. I think that in 2015 many people in Dickinson will experience a catastrophe. Some people employed with Baker Hughes, Halliburton, or Patterson drilling, who had purchased a house in Dickinson in order to move their wife and children here, will not be able to pay their mortgage on the $300,000 house they bought, nor will they be able to sell it for more than $250,000. People who purchased new travel trailers to live in RV Parks, and people who purchased manufactured homes in manufactured home communities will just walk away from their trailers because they will no longer be able to make the payments and pay the lot rent, and there will be no point in living in Dickinson anyway if they can’t get a job here. People will walk away from their apartment leases. Will the new apartment communities still be able to charge $2,000 a month for an apartment?
I would like to be here in Dickinson long enough to see some people have their heads shoved in shit, which is what I felt that some people have done to me, merely for coming here, and being from somewhere else. Myself, and other people have come to North Dakota, with a college education, with no criminal record, with a work history of professionalism, and having lived and worked throughout the United States, and been treated like dirt by ignorant, uneducated, never-been-anywhere North Dakotans who temporarily and briefly have been given power over other people by the oil boom here. I would like to be here to see some of the local people and businesses who have mistreated and taken advantage of people from out-of-town, get what is coming to them.