Hess proved in 1951 there is oil beneath the wheat fields of western North Dakota.
But it took the convergence of a changing economy and technology to realize the full extent of that find. Now there is no doubt that a Bakken boom is well underway. “Help wanted” signs are everywhere in North Dakota and there is a palpable sense of opportunity in the air, on and off the oil and gas fields. North Dakota is far removed from the recession felt in other parts of the U.S.
While many other states are wrestling with budget deficits and painful cuts to public services, North Dakota’s state government has billions of dollars in surplus. The state is using this revenue to fund infrastructure projects in its fastest-growing regions, cut property taxes and add to a trust fund.
“We’re very confident that we’ve got a 20-year oil boom ahead of us,” said Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Natural Resources. “That’s driving tens of thousands of jobs. I think right now we’re estimating 35,000 jobs in direct employment.”
North Dakota is at the center of the national shale oil and gas boom. It may not have started there, but much of the technology, the production processes, drilling techniques and work ethic are being perfected here. Lessons learned in the North Dakota Bakken – many of them by Hess engineers and geoscientists – are being applied in other locations across the U.S., including Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as helping to inform initial studies of promising shale development areas around the world.
North Dakota recently passed Alaska to become the No. 2 oil-producing state in the country. The Bakken is yielding nearly a half-million barrels of oil daily, up from 80,500 barrels a day just eight years ago. There are approximately 180 oil and gas companies there and thousands of businesses that support them. By the end of 2011 there were more than 6,000 wells capable of producing oil and gas statewide. There could be another 20,000 wells drilled within the next 20 years, followed by more than 30 years of pumping oil.
Hess is well positioned to take advantage of this boom in the shale oil and gas business in North Dakota.