This morning, the U.S. Department of Labor issued the nation’s monthly jobs report. These headlines speak to the bleak results:
- Los Angeles Times’: “Stagnant labor market seen as unemployment rate holds at 9.6%.”
- USA Today: Obama faces same jobless rate of 9.6% — but fewer jobs
- Associated Press: “Economy loses 95K jobs due to government layoffs,” noting that “The jobless rate has now topped 9.5 percent for 14 straight months, the longest stretch since the 1930s.”
But it’s not all gloom and doom. You see, because of technologies like hydraulic fracturing – a tightly regulated 60 year-old oil and natural gas stimulation process – thousands of good-paying private sector jobs continue to be created at a time when they’re most needed. At the same time, because of this work enable by fracture stimulation technologies, abundant supplies of homegrown, reliable sources of oil and natural gas are coming to market, helping to keep energy costs stable for struggling American consumers, families and small businesses.
Unfortunately, “the federal government has something in the works that, if approved, could paralyze North Dakota’s oil patch,” according to the state’s Department of Mineral Resources chief. It’s called the FRAC Act, and this misguided legislation – which would strip individual energy-producing states of their “commendable” ability to tightly regulate fracturing would deliver a major blow to job growth and domestic energy production without adding any additional environmental benefits.
“University of Pittsburgh environmental engineering professor Radisav Vidic said there is no evidence that fracking alone creates any environmental hazards, as long as all other safety measures are followed,” reports West Virginia’s Wheeling Intelligencer. The FRAC Act is simply another ‘Washington solution’ in search of a problem.
But here’s a quick look at the staggering rates of economic growth in North Dakota, where the responsible development of oil-rich Bakken Shale is putting thousands of Americans to work, as the state’s “oil rig count matches record set in 1981.”
The Dickinson Press: Experts discuss North Dakota oil possibilities (10/7/10)
- “Many great opportunities for all of us North Dakotans with this Bakken play,” said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council. “I think we all recognize the influx of people, the influx of wealth and the influx of potential is somewhat of a renaissance for North Dakota.” … “You really can’t understand the magnitude of what’s going on until you get out on the ground you see a drilling rig you see the traffic,” Ness said.
- Kathleen Neset, a geologist and owner of Neset Consulting Service in Tioga, said the Three Forks Formation, which is present in Stark County, is about 370 million years old. Neset said the Bakken play is the largest in the lower 48 states, citing it as a “technology play.” “We knew the oil was there, now it’s a matter of making it work with the technology,” Neset said.
- However, the federal government has something in the works that, if approved, could paralyze North Dakota’s oil patch. Hydraulic fracturing, a high-pressure tactic used to extract oil from rock formations, is at the heart of developing the Bakken Formation. Lynn Helms, director of the state’s Department of Mineral Resources, said it has been proposed that the Environmental Protection Agency be put in charge of hydraulic fracturing. Helms said the state’s geology is much different than others and North Dakota’s regulations are much more stringent than others. “We know how to take care of our resources in North Dakota,” he said, adding protection of groundwater resources is the number one priority. “We’ve been doing it for a long time.”
Williston Herald: Bakken basics: Town hall meeting highlights oil industry activity (10/7/10)
- North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said activity in the state has reached record-breaking levels across the board. “We are in an unprecedented time in North Dakota history,” said Helms. Helms said activity is booming, with over 320,000 barrels of oil being produced each day, a record number of rigs operating and thousands of jobs available. He added that the long term stability of the state’s oil play grows stronger each day.
- Kathy Neset, owner of Neset Consulting Services of Tioga, said technology has been a key component to the current success in the Bakken formation. Neset explained to the crowd the horizontal drilling technique used to get to the thin layer of Bakken shale. Without the use of horizontal drilling, a huge amount of oil would be unrecoverable. “When we have an unconventional play, we have to go out and do other things,” said Neset. … “This truly is a technological play,” said Neset.
- North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness said current estimates put the number of employees in the oil industry in the 18-25,000 range. Ness said there are thousands of current job openings available to meet the current demand. In the long term there will be thousands of permanent jobs in the state, from people servicing wells to operating processing plants. Ness said gas processing plants have been announced in Williams and McKenzie counties, among others. He said these will provide large numbers of high-paying jobs to the communities they’re located in.
KFYR-TV: Western Oil Development (10/7/10)
- “They see this as a tremendous opportunity, not just for the current time, but for many years to come,” said Director of North Dakota Pipeline Justin Kringstad. “We’ve got something very sustainable,” said Helms.
The biggest problem facing North Dakotans, aside from the threat posed by the FRAC Act, which could shut down this responsible and tightly regulated development, according to the Associated Press? “The money problem is how to spend it,” where there’s “virtual full employment, according to economists.”