Thursday, November 03, 2011

Riding the Dakota Oil Boom

A surge in crude-oil production in North Dakota is fueling a railroad boom in one of the nation's most remote regions, as producers bet that trains will be a quick and lucrative way to break a transportation bottleneck. The steady conveyor belt of jet-black rail cars is just the latest change in this state's western corner. Already clusters of trailers, known as man camps, have popped up in pasture lands outside of small towns like Watford City, N.D., to house oil workers. Watford City has gone from a quiet crossroads without a single stoplight to a bustling hub with its own rush hour, because it serves as a stopping point for truckers looking for diesel, Red Bull and Hot Pockets. The trains, trucks and trailers point to what has become a central challenge facing North Dakota's rise as a U.S oil-producing power: how to get crude out of the massive Bakken Shale reserve and to the refineries far away that process it. North Dakota's output has grown in the last three years from a trickle to nearly 450,000 barrels a day—trailing only Texas, Alaska and California—and could double by the middle of the decade, according to analyst and industry projections. But pipelines in the region already are operating at capacity, and major new lines aren't expected to start going into service until 2013...more

No comments: