Life in the Bakken isn’t for the faint of heart. Since 2006, the North Dakota oil boom has changed the landscape of life and work in the area. Even with substantially less growth in 2015, the Bakken boom has left the state with a billion-dollar surplus and a per capita gross domestic product 29% above the national average.
But life isn’t about numbers for the men and women on the ground keeping the machine moving forward. It is long days, unexpected challenges, brutal winters and a lightning fast pace.
Brad Gray, 26, a Michigan native, has been in the Bakken for about nine months. He’s a regional sales manager for ISCO Industries, a global customized pipeline solutions provider based out of Louisville, Kentucky. ISCO is involved in several different aspects of the Bakken. When oil companies are drilling and oil prices are up, the company provides high-density polyethylene (HDPE) saltwater pipelines, natural gas pipelines, and freshwater supply pipelines. Along with that, ISCO runs a certified rental center for McElroy fusion machines. The ISCO shop in Williston stays busy renting and repairing machines to keep up with the pace of the oil fields.
As the drilling slowed, the focus in the field shifted. “The freshwater supply systems have been our main focus over the last six months,” Gray explained. “Many of the energy and midstream companies are shifting their focus to that side of the fence rather than the drilling side for the moment.” The systems feed well sites with frac water and help take water-hauling trucks off the road, making it a much safer and more efficient way to get water to the wells. “It’s a great way for them to generate revenue even when they aren’t drilling,” said Gray. “Once drilling picks back up, this will be a huge revenue stream as many well pads will be supplied by these systems.” ISCO HDPE pipe is ideal for these high-pressure lines. It’s hydraulically smooth and fatigue and surge resistant. It is heat fused at the joints, which means the pipeline has a zero leak-rate.
For Gray, the work day starts at 5:30 AM. But, from there, every day is different. Gray runs fusion training classes for ISCO sometimes up to three mornings per week, teaching technicians how to heat fuse HDPE pipe. “After that, I’m usually meeting customers on job sites, dropping off pipe fittings or fusion machines. My job continues long after we’ve sold the pipe.”
Not everyone is suited for work in the Bakken. It’s a fast-paced, demanding environment. But, it has its rewards. “You don’t have the choice to slow down or get bored,” Gray explained. “I get to work with people from all over the U.S. and world. Sure, it would be nice to be closer to family, but it is incredible to be part of a historical oil boom that people will remember for hundreds of years.”
For more information about ISCO, contact Brad Gray:
800-345-ISCO or 701-818-0819