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Oil and gas workers operating in a north dakota oilfield
(Image courtesy of Encana Corp)

New Bakken U scholarship program to help oil workers begins

FARGO, N.D. — A 28-year-old man who came from Wyoming to work in the North Dakota oil patch is going back to college, thanks in part to a new university system program meant to keep people in the energy industry from leaving the state when times are tough.

Warren Logan is the first scholarship recipient for Bakken U, an initiative to help oilfield workers earn a degree or certificate from one of five colleges and universities in western North Dakota. He will receive $5,000 toward pursuit of a business degree from Dickinson State University.

Logan, who works as district manager of fluid control for Denver-based National Oilwell Varco, said his family wants to stay in Dickinson and he wants to make sure he has a job.

“I’ve invested a lot into this community,” said Logan, who is married with three children. “I like the stance that North Dakota is taking. They are putting their best foot forward and telling people, stay here, because there are great things to offer.”

Logan grew up on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Riverton, Wyoming. He attended college at the University of Wyoming before deciding to take a job in the oil patch when some of his friends working there began “showing off their newest toys.” He started as an oil well operator seven years ago and worked his way up to manager.

“I have a good position with a great company, but there’s always a chance of an unexpected loss of employment,” Logan said. “Education is important for upward mobility.”

The scholarship, sponsored by the North Dakota Petroleum Council, is open to recently displaced oil workers, current oil workers or spouses of oil workers. Logan was selected after a review by a scholarship committee.

Bakken U is the brainchild of the university system Chancellor Mark Hagerott, who came up with the idea while touring the oil patch last summer. Jerry Rostad, director of Bakken U, said Logan’s circumstances made him an ideal candidate for the first scholarship.

“We’ve got people who have come to North Dakota to work in the oil industry and now the oil price is turned down a little bit,” Rostad said. “There are still plenty of opportunities to work in the state; it’s a matter of getting some retraining and some education under their belts. A lot of these workers want to stay here.”

Online: Bakken U: http://bakkenu.ndus.edu

In related news, North Dakota’s colleges pitch education to laid-off roustabouts.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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