Discussions of oil rigs and petroleum exploration usually bring to mind images of coastal waters. If you ask Americans where most domestic oil comes from, the common answer will be offshore drilling. However, onshore drilling has historically accounted for a large percentage of domestic oil. Texas and Alaska, leaders in domestic oil production, garner much of their crude from land-based fields. Recent innovations in technology are allowing North Dakota oil companies to make their state a contender in onshore oil drilling. The growing number of North Dakota oil jobs and production over the past few years has already moved the state into fourth place.
The success of North Dakota oil companies is due in part to the Bakken Shale. The Bakken Shale is a formation of rock that spans over 200,000 square miles. It is located entirely underground and covers an area that overlaps the borders of North Dakota, Montana, and part of Canada. Geologists who discovered the Bakken Shale in 1951 new there were oil deposits at that time. However, the technology to produce oil from the area successfully was not available until 2007. Estimations on the total amount of oil that could be recovered from the Bakken Shale using current technology range between 18 and 22 billion barrels.
The potential resources of the North Dakota oil industry are so great; dozens of large companies have set up drilling operations within the state. Notable companies with drilling interests in the area include Marathon, Whiting, Hess, and Samson. Traders who believe the Bakken Shale will be successful can invest in a fund which profits from the oil production. The Williston Basin/Mid-North America Stock Fund, or ICPAX, has gained approximately 100% in value over the past two years. The corporate and financial interests in the Bakken Shale have increased the number of North Dakota oil jobs available.
In 2010, Enrbridge expanded the pipeline servicing three major oil fields in the North Dakota area. In addition to the Bakken field, the Three Forks field and Spanish field also produce substantial amounts of oil. The expansion of the pipeline not only made it easier to transport oil from these fields, it also increased the attractiveness of the fields for major companies. Technology, innovation, and hard work continue to transport the often desolate prairie of North Dakota into an oasis for oil companies.
Later in 2010, reports that North Dakota would break its oil production record began to surface. By October, North Dakota oil companies had already produced more oil than during the entire previous year. They were on target to crush the record by over 30 million barrels of crude. The land-locked state of North Dakota had made the Who’s Who list of oil producing states and it was proudly nestled in place right after Texas, Alaska, and California. Success in oil production continues in the state, and is especially important to the entire nation during the current energy crisis. Domestic oil production is valuable to companies, employees, consumers, and even national security.
Those looking to join the ranks of oil field workers everywhere used to travel to coastal areas in hopes of finding a job. As technological advances make it profitable for land-based shale and oil deposits to be mined, the bulk of oil field work may begin shifting away from the coast. Rig hands, geologists, helicopter pilots, truck drivers, instrument technicians, rig foremen, and others have already found careers in the prairie oil fields. Others looking for such jobs may find it worthwhile to research North Dakota oil jobs, and become part of a successful and important business in the heart of the American mid-west.