Just how long will the North Dakota oil boom last? Some say that there’s decades of oil in the ground. According to a recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the Bakken oil boom is five times larger than the area’s 1980s oil boom. The Bakken area accounts for almost 11 percent of the all U.S. oil output.
When I was in Williston, ND, reporting for the Century about churches in the oil boom, I found that longtime residents often feel they are in conflict with short-term oil workers, who have no plans to stay.
When I went to Williston, North Dakota to report for the Century on churches in the oil boom, I had dinner at a place called Banquet West, a free meal on Sunday nights. At my table on that stormy March evening were people from around the country.
Baltimore, our declining but still 12th-largest city, has a larger population than the entire state of North Dakota, which has 634,366 people. The state’s Divide County takes up a lot of space on the map, but its population declined from 9,636 in 1930 to 2,208 (down 77 percent) today. You could fit those people into any urban block.
In a predictably condescending article on North Dakota in a recent New Yorker (February 18-25), Mark Singer quoted Doug Burgum of Microsoft Great Plains: “We have this deep-seated Scandinavian, Teutonic outlook—a combination of dark Lutheranism and German Catholicism, which adds up to a primal sense that somehow we’re not worthy.” Dakotans are losers?