north dakota oil boom

North Dakota Oil Boom



lush that’s all basement
grain austere confluence
seek lay-off desperate
shave buffalo stampede
wage beat up in common
host mayor boom (2)
worth keep up buck (3)
bustle lottery fortunate
proud amber hitchhike
gush scrap up all the way
razor dwindle bank account
influx camper farfetched
ditto decent wave (2)
drill willing responsible
rig field (2) sharecropper
barrel appear in common





Journalist: Western North Dakota, where the big-sky country really begins. A land of austere beauty, lush with amber waves of grain.

And for the last few decades, a place of dwindling population and few opportunities….

Until now.

It’s an oil boom, the likes of which have not been seen in the United States in half a century.

A boom so big, it’s gushing jobs by the thousands.

At the heart of this boom is Williston, North Dakota.

It’s a confluence of trucks and noise and dust and bustle. It’s a town racing to keep up with the influx of jobs and people.

The trucks run through like modern buffalo….a stampede that can’t be stopped.

Starting salary for truck drivers: $80,000 a year.

You can make $15 an hour at Taco John’s.

In town or in the oil field, if you’re willing to work, the money is here.

Mayor: You know there is opportunity here, and an opportunity is what we all need.

Journalist: Long time mayor Ed Koesser says Williston is fast becoming host to job seekers from all 50 states.

In just five years, it’s population has nearly doubled to 23 thousand.

Mayor: We have two to three thousand jobs here, and more come on the scene every day.
Journalist: Two to three thousand?!?
Mayor: Two to three thousand. A lot of jobs get filled every day, but it’s like for every job you fill, a job-and-a-half opens up.

Journalist: One of those jobs went to Grace Krugman, from Colorado. Till August, Krugman was a laid-off school teacher, looking for work for more than a year.

Grace: I didn’t think I would ever teach again.

Journalist: When she applied for a job at the now exploding Williston school system, the school basically said, “When can you start?”

What was the feeling when they called up and said, “Yes, we have a job for you?”

Grace: I was sooo excited! It was like….I don’t know how to explain it. I felt like, maybe I’m worth something again.

Journalist: Her husband Myles was employed back in Colorado, but his work was slowing down. When they got to North Dakota, the licensed electrician felt like he had won the lottery.

Myles: I called four companies and received four offers inside of two hours!
Journalist: This has got to be the only place in America that’s like this.

Myles: Yeah, it just feel a whole different part of the world. It’s the only place in America that’s like this right now.

Journalist: If what Williston’s got is jobs, what it doesn’t have is housing.

Journalist: So this is…”Home Sweet Home”?
Grace: Yep.
Myles: This is Home Sweet Home.

Journalist: For now the Krugmans are making due with a single bedroom in the basement belonging to the high school geometry teacher.

Myles: We’re fortunate. Very fortunate.
Journalist: Oh, you’re lucky to have something.
Myles: Yes, there people living in their cars and there’s campers in Walmart.

Journalist: If John Steinbeck were alive, he’d be writing about men like George Greene, Phil Hazelberg and Patrick Parker.

Patrick: One of my goals is to make my daughters proud of me. I want to make them proud. Because I worked a good job for ten years – and then for it to go away. It just…sorry. Sorry. It get to me a little bit.

Journalist: Patrick hitchhiked all the way from California. Phil got here in his beat-up van from Wisconsin.

And George scraped up enough money to buy a bus ticket from Florida.

At night, he sleeps in his friend’s truck.

George: I always have my toothbrush, toothpaste and razor that I shave and clean up at Walmart in the morning. And this is home.

Journalist: Each man is willing to cross the country to regain something he had lost.

How soon do you need to get a job?

Patrick: Tomorrow. I’ve got twelve bucks left.
Journalist: In your pocket?
Patrick: Yes sir. No bank account.

Journalist: Would it be too farfetched to say that desperation brought you here?

Phil: The last couple of years I’ve been laid off. Unemployment exhausted on me. I’m turning wrenches part-time for family and friends; that’s not cutting the bills. Yeah, desperation.

George: Ditto. I mean I just want to have a descent life, that’s all.

Journalist: For those coming to Williston with little cash and a fresh start, they might be surprised to find how much they have in common with the man most responsible for this boom: Harold Ham.

Ham is the son of sharecroppers. His company, Continental Resources, has more drilling rigs in operation than anyone else in the field, known as the Bakken Formation.

Ham is now a billionaire — several times over.

Ham: Our company’s calculation that we did last year, for this Bakken Field, appear in both North Dakota and Montana, was 24 billion barrels.

Journalist: Twenty-four billion barrels?

Ham: Twenty-four billion barrels.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *


1. Has North Dakota always been the same or has it been changing? What was North Dakota like in the past?

2. Describe Williston. What is happening to Williston?

3. Americans from all 50 states coming to Williston. True or false? Why are they coming?

4. There is only work for oil workers. Yes or no? What was Grace Krugman’s story?

5. Is it easy to get a job in Williston? Are the wages and salaries high or low?

6. It’s easy to find housing (accommodation) in Williston. Is this correct or wrong?

7. Who is Patrick? How did he come to Williston? Why did he come to Williston?

8. Who is most responsible for the oil boom in North Dakota? Is he upper-class (rich), upper-middle-class, middle-class, lower-middle-class (working-class), or lower-class (poor)? Does he come from a rich background?

9. Is there lots of oil in North Dakota?
A. Is there a “boom town” or “boom city” in your country? What is happening there?

B. Has it always been like that, or have there been changes?

C. I would like to like and work in North Dakota. Yes or no? What about your friends or acquaintances?

D. What will happen in the future?

E. What should people do if they want more money or opportunities?

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