When did the boom begin?
About seven years ago. Geologists have known about the Bakken shale foundation, one of the largest oil and natural gas deposits in the world, since the early 1950s. But oil production in the state was slow to develop because it was too difficult and costly to get at the deposits, which are trapped between compressed layers of rock. But as oil prices rose and hydraulic fracturing technology advanced in the 2000s, tapping the ocean of crude suddenly made good economic sense. North Dakota went from being the ninth biggest oil-producing state in 2006 to the second today, with only Texas producing more. There are now more than 9,000 active wells in the state, producing 800,000 barrels of oil a day — about 11 percent of the country’s overall production.
What has that brought to North Dakota?
Jobs, money, and people. The state now has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 3 percent. Its oil industry employs almost 41,000 people, plus 18,000 jobs in peripheral industries. For those working in the “Oil Patch” in the western part of the state, the average annual salary is $112,462.