As oil prices dip to around $30 a barrel, fears are setting in that North Dakota's oil fields have been overdeveloped. If the current boom goes bust, these towns might find themselves nearly empty.
In towns like Williston, North Dakota, the past eight years have been boom times. The arrival of fracking technicians and engineers, mostly men, brought on a spree of development to house, feed, and entertain them. "Now, laid-off oil-field workers are piecing together new jobs, and some have left town. Hotels that were once booked solid for months are about half occupied. Some of the new luxury apartments built to handle the surge of arrivals are dark."
Jack Healy continues, "The slowdown has hammered governments across North Dakota, forcing some to cut spending or dip into reserves. Williston expects $151 million in revenue this year, down about 23 percent from two years ago. Real estate prices have come down, giving a welcome break to many renters, but agents say there is a glut of about 300 to 400 homes for sale, with more being built."
While local leaders profess their faith that the boom will continue, workers aren't so sure. "'I wish I'd come a couple years ago,' [Jerry] Mallett, 60, said one afternoon as he sat at a hiring center, waiting to hear about a job hauling sand and water to fracking sites. 'I wouldn’t be broke.'"
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