Don’t Come To Dickinson, North Dakota

Please do not come to Dickinson, North Dakota.  Due to the low price of oil, employers throughout western North Dakota have laid people off, and are continuing to lay people off.  Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Marathon, Schlumberger, Patterson Drilling, and many others have recently let employees go due to reduced work, and trying to cut costs.

In the March 26 edition of the “Dickinson Press”, there was an article that said the amount of drill rigs operating in North Dakota right now is 97, the lowest it has been since February of 2010.  I believe that this article said that the highest rig count was about 270 in 2013.  Elsewhere in this edition of the “Dickinson Press”, was an article about North Dakota hoping to create manufacturing jobs in order to have something for residents of North Dakota to do for employment, but this is a long way off, and just a wish right now.

I was at a community event last night, and one of the event organizers who was speaking to the group, said regarding what the group was doing, that we needed to be mindful that though Dickinson had grown rapidly during the last several years, it was going through a different kind of change right now, and that Dickinson is beginning a period of economic difficulty.

An oil drill rig has about 40 workers directly associated with that particular rig, where that rig goes, they go.  There are about 200 drill rigs that have been parked and are not working in western North Dakota.  That means 8,000 drill rig workers have been laid off.  These are the highest paid workers in the oil field, they make about $100k per year more or less.  Many of these workers are young, many of these workers are from out-of-state.  I think that a lot of them have bought new trucks for themselves, new vehicles for their wives, and have bought  homes back in the states that they came from.  They had the expectation of making $100k per year, for the next several years, so did the car dealers, so did the banks.  Every one of these drill rig workers probably has a least one large truck payment each month, if not two vehicle payments and a house payment.

Because there are about 200 drill rigs that are not working, there are many other trades that are not working.  Excavation and site work contractors that employ equipment truck drivers, dump truck drivers, dozer operators, scraper operators, and laborers are not preparing drill sites.  Fence contractors are not putting up fences at these sites.  Loader operators are not very busy at quarries.  Heavy equipment mechanics, service trucks, tire services are not busy in the oil field.  The water truck drivers do not have work when there is no drilling and fracturing.  The truck drivers who deliver the tank batteries do not have work when there is no fracturing.  There will be less work for the work-over rigs.  There will be less work for the pump jack installers.  There will be less work for the electricians who install the underground electric, instrumentation, controls, and pump jack motors at the well sites.  Much less work in the oil field.

Property owners and mineral rights owners in North Dakota have begun to receive much smaller payments from oil companies for the wells on their property.  The price of oil is down, plus the oil companies don’t want to pump as much oil when the price is down.

Because the North Dakota property owners, truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, heavy equipment mechanics, service truck drivers, fence installers, laborers, electricians, pump jack installers, and rig workers have less money and are spending less money, all the retail stores, car dealers, and restaurants make less money, and are less busy.

In the “Dickinson Press” on Thursday March 26, there were two jobs listed in the Help Wanted section of the newspaper.  At this time of year, one year ago, there would have been about twenty to thirty jobs posted.

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