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Layoffs in the Bakken and a shifting economy

As the oil price slump persists consumers are reaping the benefits of lower fuel costs. Towns like Williston, however, with economies structured around the oil and gas industry, are beginning to see the effects of the nation-wide drilling slowdown.

A recent report from CNN Money examines how the slowdown is beginning to affect workers in the Bakken oil formation of Montana and North Dakota. Across the nation, oil and gas companies have been announcing layoffs. Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services company, reported that it would cut 9,000 jobs companywide. Earlier this week, Baker Hughes announced the layoffs of about 7,000 employees by the end of March.

The rig count in North Dakota has dropped significantly within the past month and has reached the lowest level in five years. As of today, the rig count is 157 compared to 189 the same time last year. CNN reports that CEO of MBI Energy Services Jim Arthaud said, “My prediction is we’re down to 50 rigs by June.” Though, he didn’t express much concern about the effects it would have on his company. The firm repairs area oil field equipment, works to increase well flow and transports oil from the fields to adjacent rail hubs.

Arthaud, who grew up in North Dakota, has been working in the oil and gas industry since the late 1970s. Having experienced the industry’s cyclical nature before, he plans to use the layoffs from other companies as an opportunity to hire additional employees. The Belfield-based company currently employs roughly 2,000 people. The effects of the drilling slowdown will likely have a large impact on the region if low oil prices persist, however. Arthaud commented, “I’d say we’ll lose 20,000 jobs by June.”

Despite the current slowdown, other residents don’t seem as concerned. While the drilling slowdown may lead to layoffs in the oil and gas sector, the region continues to sustain its population and retains the need for infrastructure related to the industry. CNN reports that Josslyn Dodds, an owner of a local pharmacy said, “I hear about people getting laid off, but there are still so many people everywhere. There are so many people who have made this place their home.”

In Watford City, for example, Mayor Brent Sanford stated that when his daughter was born in 2000, there were only three other children born in the county that same year. Today, there are about 90 kids in her class. He said, “Half the students are living in RVs.” Housing developments continue to spring up at an exponential rate, and the city is in the process of building a new high school, hospital and events center to remedy the rapid population growth. Although many are concerned about what will happen if the oil boom turns bust, the region continues to hire in other industries.

In Williston, Mayor Howard Klug said, “I’m not worried, because it’s going to come back.” He added that if the oil boom dries up, there are plenty of other industries to be a buoy for the slowing pace of the oil and gas industry. He said the city is looking to refining, tourism, or even returning to the area’s agricultural roots if the oil dries up. Though, he doesn’t see that happening anytime soon.

267 comments

  1. I am thinking……its January….and this is propaganda…wtf

    • I was just laid off due to low oil prices. Enjoy your low price at the pump. I have a family to take care of. Now what do I do?

      • I am really sorry that you are laid off and that you and your family are in your situation. However, I do have to say that my sympathy is pretty small considering how badly the oil and gas majors stuck it to all of us consumers the last 14 years (with a short reprieve in 2009-2010). And of course, they will start shutting off the wells, letting it dry up some, and then run the price stupidly high again.

      • Were you working in the Oil Industry?? If so I am sorry for your loss however If you have been bringing home six figures and didnt save anything I guess it’s on you. Yes I love low priceses at the pump!! If the oil giants werent screwing us all so bad and we werent all being screwed by the price to just get the oil out of the ground and paying off the farmers ranchers and land ownes gas would be one dollar a gallon. The price of oil will go up again you will get that job back and we will all be paying 4 bucks a gallon for gas making it on a regular wage and you will be making to much money while the rest of us figure it out…. Is that better for you and your family??

    • Low oil and gas prices are good for the country as a whole. Sorry that people
      get laid off but if you work in the oil industry and make big bucks-save some.
      You will certainly need it one day.

  2. Good thing price of gas is cheaper. Some how I think our government been raping its citizens.

  3. I don’t think anyone is panicking except the news media. I’ve been hearing about thousands of layoffs, but I’m yet to personally know anyone who’s been laid off!! I mean, it’s not like oil prices have never dropped before….it’s just a matter of time before the gas pumps become unfriendly once again!!

  4. damned if you do, damned if you dont when it comes to oil extraction

  5. I know lots of people being laid off and screwed by these gas prices.

  6. It’s odd that a gallon of milk costs three times as much as a gallon of liquified dinosaurs

  7. I just want to know when housing prices will drop. If they think people made that their home, they are right however, no one can afford housing there without the oilfield money. People in leases are going to be hurting

  8. Tourism? Good luck with that Mayor if it gets to that…

  9. Wasn’t this story on your feed last week?

    • Not this exact story, but there has been a couple different stories on this topic posted recently. Since this is such an important issue for the industry, we want to keep our audience up to date on this topic.

    • I think what people want to see are actual facts. There seems to be so many mixed stories out there that nobody knows what to believe. I think fact findings are relevant before posting news like this. Alot of oil field workers seem to know a bit more cause they are actually out in the field so I will tend to listen to them a bit more than a newspaper article without actual facts. This is only my opinion.

    • Thank you so much for your opinion Michael – could you please specify where there are incorrect facts in this article so we can address them? We appreciate all feedback from our audience with serious consideration.

    • I’ve been reading alot about layoffs but it seems the workers have yet to see these layoffs, so I would find out specifically where the layoffs are at and start there. Maybe talk to the workers and companies.

    • Great points Michael – we have had countless followers state that they have been recently laid to either us directly or as a comment on articles that we post. We also reach out to the O&G industry to ask about their current situations and have had a lot of feedback that there has been several layoffs happening to them or individuals that they know.

      You previously stated that “I think fact findings are relevant before posting news like this.” We would really appreciate knowing specifically what information was false. Our articles go through several editing and fact finding stages before they are posted.

    • What?!?! Join some more oilfield pages.. Everyone is seeing the layoffs. My husband just got laid off and 6 friends that we know of.

    • THERE has been TONS of layoffs. Schlumberger Laid off 7000, Nebers 9000 etc.

  10. I know of a few layoffs here and there, but it’s mostly using the oil price as an excuse to get rid of dead weight….

  11. More to come as contracts are up

  12. You mean you can get a motel room under a grand a week?

  13. What about electricians there?

  14. “The sky is falling! The sky is falling Tighten up, it’ll be over shortly!

  15. I know lots of people that has lost their jobs already! If you haven’t seen it your not on the drilling and completion side of the oil patch

  16. My son’s rig is going down, my daughters hours have been cut — it’s happening, depends on opec

  17. Its all gonna be ok i heard they pay $15 an hr at mc donalds up there

  18. I have been out of work since November and still haven’t found a thing hope it gets better at least my stuff is payed off one of the lucky ones

  19. Obviously the airlines are not aware, as their prices to get to Williston are more ridicules then ever…

  20. Now its all about who you know.

  21. If you are trying to stay up here during this seasonal slow down, it helps to have an in on the service side of things, yes it’s less pay, but you won’t starve. Now is the time to jump on it bc come Feb and March most spots will be filled.

    • “Seasonal slow down”????? Pretty sure this crude drop is not a seasonal thing.

    • Mike, if you think this is a seasonal slowdown, you haven’t been paying attention. “One to two years”. Not months. Years.

    • Same thing happened in the 90’s and in 2008.
      I use the term seasonal loosely, I know it’s going to be slow the next year or two, my point is that it helps to know the service side of things and to have an out from the drilling side.
      I saw this coming 6 moths ago, I went from hauling to to rigs and frack sites to reclaiming old pads, we have over 70 sites under contract, that’s enough work to last a year, it’s a big pay cut, but it’s stable .

    • Wrong again Glenn, will rebound much more quickly than that according to all in the industry including OPEC.

  22. Good. The locals need a break from all the oilfield trash.

  23. One industry is hurting while many others see benefits, worthy trade if you ask me

    • Many industries will be hurting as well as our economy if it lasts for awhile which all indicators appear to be trending that way. It really is not a good thing in the long term sense……

    • How can low fuel prices hurt any industry besides the oil industry? That makes zero sense. I can see banking because of possible loans to the oil companies. My pocket book is happy that is for sure

    • Bill Rucker>> It makes a lot of sense. You have no clue how much our hard earned oilfield money supports all the businesses in and around the oilfield. If the oilfield goes down so does all the new hotels, shopping centers, restaurants etc. that open up shop around us to get in on the money. You have no clue how widespread the effect will be. All of America will feel the effects.

    • You save a few dollars at the pump. big Deal. They say average someone will save $700 a year if the gas stays at this price. While these guys that have lost their income will be loosing so much more then that. You figure there montly salary & multiply it by 12…….I think we can see who will be getting screwed. There could be a happy Medium.

    • AND I defietnly agree what Keith Said^^^^^

    • Only a small percentage of the Cities or towns in the US have an economy that depends on the oil industry. I come from a mining town and your situation is no different. That is what happens when prices fall.

    • Billy the problem is that when the bust in the 80s happened, people still had good options for work, logging, mining and so on. Those jobs are gone and have been replaced with low paying jobs. I live 600 miles from an oilfield and 7% of the 115k people in my county work in either the bakken or Wyoming oil patches, if we all lose our oil jobs that puts our non oil community at about 14% unemployment, or employment that doesn’t pay a quarter of what we we’re making. It’s roughly a half a billion dollars a year that won’t be brought into and spent in my non oil community. That’s how it hits America hard.

    • and we oilfeild workers make roughly 3x the average person where I live so the 7% are like 21% of the people money wise.

    • It’ll hurt boom towns that’s all . That’s a pretty small percentage of the US population

  24. Im off work because of the oil prises i work in the oil field and ya im ready for it to go back up ready to work

  25. The railroads in nd are hiring.

  26. Tuff titties said the kitty…..Booo hoo if a few jobs are lost to keep prices low so the rest of the American people don’t go broke just paying for fuel to get back & forth to work….like it has been for years!

    • Most of us that are being laid off pay about $750 TO $1250 A week in taxes that go to pay for things like food stamps, earned income tax credit, WIC, and a lot of other things you as young father benefit from……. oh and let’s not forget section 8 housing for those down in the warm South. Yep us guys living in campers in below 0 weather are paying for that too….

    • Hey brother half my pay is gone every pay as well! I make damn good money in my position doing telecommunications in the Healthcare industry. Because my work is inside and yours is outside doesn’t change a thing. I could still be out running the east coast chasing troubles and doing line work (I am a BICSU certified technician with a IT degree that I paid for by myself because I worked full-time), but I chose to be home after becoming a dad…landed an excellent telecommunications position for a very large Healthcare facility. So what exactly do you give me a month? WHAT DO YOU PROVIDE FOR MY FAMILY? Was all that money in my bank account that built my families home your money I’ve been saving all these years? And it’s not my fault you work out in the weather and live in a camper…..cry me a river! I was out working 30ft up a telephone pole with spikes and a leather belt in ZERO temps and splicing cable. You don’t like it get a different career then. I also only work 40hrs a week. I don’t care about down south and section 8 9 or 10. Or if you was multi skilled you’d be prepared with a backup career plan to provide for yourself incase something didn’t work out. If anything my check will be paying your laid off ass….

    • Barry Ganoe you are a self centered and selfish ass hole!! I hope you get laid off!!!

    • If people are going broke over high gas prices, seems like ALOT more is wrong than just the price of gas. JS

    • People in the oilfields don’t drive to and from work also. Then when they get the chance get to drive to where their families are. Your a flippen joke.

      • so, if people in the oil field don’t drive to work, how do they get from where they live to the work site? Walk, ride a donkey, or did someone invent teleportation?

    • Cyndi, oilfield workers do drive to and from work…….. Really????

    • You willl save a few Dollars at the pump……The amount of money you will be saving is ridiculous to the amount of money these oilfield families will be loosing. I have a great idea if you Seriously cant afford gas look for a better job.

    • The fact that you think it’s ok for anyone to lose their job or that one career is more entitled than the other is what’s wrong with society as a whole. You’re part of the problem.

    • Healthcare worker bahahaha that means obamacare worker o wait my 30 grand in federal tax pays him…..FML

  27. For the people being laid off….here’s an idea find another JOB! WOW that’s so hard to do!

    • Not as easy as it sounds. When you’re making almost 100k a year in the oilfield and get laid off- the oilfield isn’t hiring. Where else can you find a job that you work that many hours and make that much money?! Not many places. And with the amount of people laid off, the jobs that are hiring have a lot of competition.

    • Water well drillers have been hurting for 10 years. Taking my act to Haiti, plenty of work there.22 years a MD master and no one would hire me 100 miles in every direction from Gettysburg

    • Caitlin, see the predicament they put you in? Utter dependence.

    • Tina Mccafferty most working people are “utterly dependent” on their jobs to feed their family and provide. My husband stays away from home for months at a time and every dime he makes goes to mortgage the 1 “new” used vehicle that we have (the 1st 1 either of us have owned with less than 250k miles on it in 10+ years). I work full time. We live way below our means feed our children tithe to our church. What makes us any different than any other working family?? The pay?? I’d like to see some of these people that say that spend months away from home working 14-16 hours a day with no weekends and no family around no body to go home to go and do the same job for 1/2 price and then tell us exactly what they think the sacrifice they make is valued at!! Most of us oil field people don’t flaunt “the big money” we tuck it away with certain goals in mind to better our families future!! It’s better than sitting around collecting welfare with a “utterly dependent” entitlement attitude.

    • When you have worked your whole adult life working in the oilfields it’s a little easier said then done. But thank you for your words of wisdom.

    • Pretty sure you have no clue how hard it is to find another job

    • WOW another iggnorant person not thinking before they speak. Finding another job that is equivalant to the oilfield isnt that easy! No one wants to live paycheck to paycheck. And just because they are laid off how do you know they arent Looking for another job! Have some compassion for these guys that have busted their ass for years, to support their family Not to go into debt & to Sacrafice so much.

    • This is my third slow down that I have been involved in. It’s tough, I have learned to live on 40k a year so anything after that is placed in savings just in case. I actually learned that from a company man who has been in the industry for 35 years!

    • As for you you’re a POS in my opinion. People dedicated their lives to a particular field of work only to have a low life like you tell them to get a new job who in the world do you think you are anyway? It’s not that easy some have spent more blood sweat and tears than you’d ever dream of on this field of work not to have it taken out from under them every time the market crashes!
      I just pray this doesn’t happen to you cuz you don’t deserve the concern of others if it does!

  28. this should give the locals time to catch up with housing etc. it will come back

  29. Barry, you sir are pretty ignorant……. However most libtards are……..

  30. I have laid off 2/3 of my staff. I hope it bounces back soon!!

  31. Maybe some of you should think about oil and gas it doesn’t just produce oil and gas ,what about all the luxeries around and in your home and those tires that is on that car that you are putting that cheap gas in,ignorance to what is all made from this maybe why a lot of you feel the way you do!!!!As an oilfield wife we support any state we work in and by that I mean forking out a lot of money rent ,utilities,fun and games,food,tips which is building up your community!!!

  32. If things slow in the patch there are still plenty of jobs in the rest of the region. Here in Jamestown unemployment is around 2%

  33. This is actually good for the industry in the long run. Alternatives will lose all kinds of ground. Why invest in renewables when oil is so cheap? SUV sales are already up as stupid Americans drink the cheap, addictive Kool-Aid. They are just insuring their customer base for the next cycle. Oil companies are just pushers. Got keep me addicted!

  34. We will take our skill sets and oil production else where and you a holes can go back to farming wheat and sunflower seeds. Can you say “plug and abandon” sure you can. North Dakota sucks ass.

    • You say that until prices go back up. ND, I’m sure, does suck. But production sucks for oil, in the USA, all the way around. When prices rise, you’ll be back.

    • Sure I’ll be back but not by choice. Over the last 25 years, the average price of oil is 50/bbl. the average break even for ND is 70-80/bbl. therefore ND has unsustainable production with locals who don’t want us there anyway. The economics are simply not there and a majority the general attitude in ND against O&G will deserve what they are about to not get. My opinion. And I still work there by the way.

    • Great, then you should go back home. 🙂 We don’t want you here.

    • Considering ND is #1 in cereal and oilseed crops, honey, sunflowers, beans, lentils, dry edible peas
      We do ok 🙂

    • The only reason anything is said is when someone bashes our home- there are many good people that moved here

    • Yeah, take your transplant punkass self back to what ever rock you clawed out from under. Typical O&G poohead!!

    • I’m second generation oilfield trash and been in the business all my life. You are not 100% accurate with regard to how people are treated in ND and their price gouging. Been all over the world and all over the states. The only place I have worked similar to ND is Pinedale WY. I treat people how I am treated and for rudeness, price gouging etc. ND is by far number one. Yes I will go elsewhere for these reasons and also for the simple reason devaluation of oil which in my opinion will never recover in ND the avg price for the last 25yrs is $50 far below ND break even of $70-80 so as all these independents go belly up, count on middle eastern oil companies and major oil companies to snatch them up for salvage. A boom based on a false economy with people who never wanted us there anyway. I’m always grateful to have a job but not because ND provided me one its because I earned my title and position which simply takes me where the action is.

  35. Maybe it’ll start going back to the way it was before big oil came to town.

  36. Hate that the Bakken is being affected in the way that it is… but despite the sag in oil prices, we’re still busy in south texas…

  37. Most of us that are being laid off pay about $750 TO $1250 A week in taxes that go to pay for things like food stamps, earned income tax credit, WIC, oh and let’s not forget section 8 housing for those down in the warm South. Yep us guys living in campers in below 0 weather are paying for that too….

  38. O well chicken today feathers tomorrow.

  39. I. Am sure there are more jobs out there that you can find if you want to work! Water projects are always are looking for good workers!

    • Yes my husband is looking for a job now that he has been laid off. But my husband has spent his entire adult life in the oilfields. Much easier said then done. But we thank you for your words of wisdom. Plus we are in California. Not much water projects out here with a 5 year drought.

  40. Someone should print some t-shirts like I used to see in Cut Bank, MT. “Lord please let oil prices come back one more time and I promise I won’t piss it all away.

  41. Put them to work installing solar panels . Big oil will only kill the planet if we keep feeding it .

    • Please make sure you are not using anything that will hurt the planet then. Hope you are riding your bike to work.

    • Solar /hydro powered electric car and biodiesel for my truck . Unfortunately it’s not perfect , everything uses resources , even the bunch of bananas I might need to pedal my bike . I could only reduce my carbon footprint by 90+%. It’s a start, hard monkey to get off ones back , but each global citizens’ responsibility to do so.

    • Not to mention the internet, the computer or phone you use, etc. Between rubber, plastics, roadways, etc, you’d have to go live on an island to not be supporting oil in some way. Even your bike is made with oil in some part of the process. Killing the planet…lol. yeah, okay. Does nobody realize we only go about 2 miles down at the deepest wells before going horizontal?? Hmmmm… figure that against the diameter of the Earth… Or perhaps everybody knows HOW wells are built, drilled, completed and fracked? Of course not, everybody thinks we just drill holes and rape the Earth hoping for a return. Nothing could be further from reality.

    • solar wind hydro will also take an initial use of petrol and mined materials to get built. just as the dam projects of the early century did, but the yield in green energy far out weighs the damage. It’s not like this is debatable anyway, the science is in and the environment is in peril. This could be our waterloo if we don’t play it right.

    • Do you have any idea about the toxic byproducts of making solar panels?

    • Solar never makes money. Wind mills break down before they pay for them selves. Not to mention it takes more energy to make them than they will ever produce. Both wouldn’t exit if the government didn’t subsidize them and mandate that we have to use them first before generating by other means.

  42. Structured??? I guess that’s one way to call the owners of these $3000/ month apartments and $5000 3 bedroom houses greedy….

  43. I will never understand why they make these decisions to stop and start do they realize what it does to homes and families and communities while they play their games

  44. complaining about layoffs? Alot of the people wouldn’t have had jobs to begin with if it weren’t for the shale oil boom.

  45. The days of $100 a barrel are over.

  46. Omg I should feel so bad these overpaid people are loosing their jobs. Let us all just pay 4 dollars a gallon so we can protect a few jobs.

    • Overpaid people??? Lol, you obviously have never been in the oilfield and have zero clue. Many of them work their Asses off. I agree there are some that are overpaid, but many work very hard to earn every dollar. Dont be a hater cause someone can stand the work and you cant.

    • I could do it. I’ve worked on roofs pored concrete ect. I just chose not to at some point. And I’m not hating because unlike them I’ll have a job next week

    • Christopher Zietler I to have done roofing and concrete and also have been involved in oil field how many roofs have you done in 40 below zero weather how much concrete have you poured in the middle of the night in in rain snow or sleet for 2 weeks straight its not as easy as you may think I welcome you to try it then tell me they are over paid the problem with this world is ignorance and people talking out about stuff they know nothing about!

  47. If things keep heading down it sure will cause a major domino effect!

  48. Sooo I’m just wondering if it’ll pick up after first quarter, 2nd quarter or when? Im a nervous wreck.. Prayers for us all

  49. It’s the oil field it goes up it goes down it goes up it goes down if you thought the boom was going to last you have not been a lot of very long it seems to do this about every 10 years

  50. A 20 oz bottle of pop cost nearly as much as a gallon of gas but people don’t gripe about that. So if you look at the big picture there is really no savings.

  51. Maybe it’s time to get out of the oilfields, I love these lower prices, as a business owner I hope they go even lower

  52. An oilfield man works harder, longer and farther from home than 95% of you regular suckers. You better hope prices come back cuz when they do look for work they are gonna be taking your job. How bout them apples!!!

  53. I’m saving over 200 a month with these fuel prices. I see job postings daily around here just not dirty money jobs like there was

  54. For all those of you who think you know so much how about this how about you look up what all uses oil and how our oil prices affect effect everyone not just those working in the business. Look at how good costs have gone up due to oil prices going down. Why don’t you look at what happened back in ’81-’82. I know prices will go back up and then everyone will complain about them being so high but it’ll even out with everything else.
    Oh as for not knowing anyone personally whose been laid off my husband is one of those people been 5 1/2 weeks and I know over 100 who have lost their jobs!
    Stop thinking only of yourselves just because it doesn’t affect you directly because at some point it will because when a state loses revenue they make up for it with the amount you get back on state tax returns so it will eventually affect you at some point just not as hard as it does those in the field!

  55. Our price per barrel needs to be a consistent $75 to keep everything on even kill not $48! Think about it people!

  56. This is all part of a normal balancing act. This was easily foreseeable and the better companies were prepared.

    I love watching the greentards rejoice as if this somehow justifies their scams. Oh, and oil will be increasing to $70-75 per barrel by Spring.

  57. T. Boone Pickens estimates $85 per barrel by jan. 2015. He hasn’t been wrong much when it comes to oil. Hang on folks it’ll be back shortly.

  58. Glenn Wahl is orgasmic when oil companies and their employees are hurting. Enjoy it while it lasts, moron.

  59. At least the locals we be happy when the oil field trash leave

  60. Boom is over people. For a good long while. (2 years minimum) better start activating your plan b if your job is in the oil field.

  61. Should start investing in renewable energy

  62. I’m busy my trucks run 24/7

  63. Gonna be a Lotta jacked up escalades , motorcycles and speed boats up for sell for cheap soon !

  64. Some of the largest city’s in the country were just boom towns at one point. Some of these people on here are ridiculous. It’s pretty hilarious. If ignorance is bliss these people are happy happy happy.

  65. A bunch of ignorant twatwaffles that drive vehicles, have homes heated by natural gas and own a lil bit of everything that was made from petroleum, but yes keep spewing asisnine comments.

  66. Just wait til OPEC controls oil without US oil companies in business, then you’ll wonder where the oilfield hands are with $5 gas. That’s why they are trying to break oil production on US Land so they can really put it on us. But that’s none of my business … #oilfield raised and oilfield paid.

  67. It will be back up in a few months, $55-$65 would help a lot, some fields would struggle but we need a balance. Saudi is trying to destroy our production capabilities. I’m worried that Russia may start something to drive prices back up, they are dying over there.

  68. Sadi is driving these prices to destroy the Russian economy…. Remember Iran in the late 70s..

  69. This maybe what yall are looking at so watch what you wish on us oilfield men and women

  70. What part of not loosing maket share don’t you understand?

  71. It will come back, just like everything else it takes time!

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