U.S. Oil Production Hits 14-Year High

Dec 4, 2012

An oil rig in North Dakota. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg.

America’s energy boom shows no signs of letting up. The Energy Information Agency announced that September’s crude oil production reached 6.5 million barrels per day, the highest level since 1998.

Shale development in Texas and North Dakota using hydraulic fracturing is leading the way.

Speaking of North Dakota, the oil boom along with continued rebuilding after 2011 floods has created such a building boom and demand for workers that a home improvement retailer is flying workers from Wisconsin into Minot, North Dakota to work in their stores:

Menard, which has more than 200 stores in the Upper Midwest, said this would be the first time it has flown employees to work weeklong stints, housing them in hotels, but that it “is going to be a permanent solution for as far as we can see.”

Minot is North Dakota’s fourth-largest city and had been growing rapidly even before the flooding that swamped some 4,100 homes and displaced thousands of residents. Its population grew from 36,500 in 2000 to about 41,000 in 2010, U.S. Census data show. City officials say the present population is nearing 50,000.

That means there’s strong demand for building materials. Minot store manager Phil Graef said business is the busiest in the five years he’s headed the store, the only big-box building supply retailer in town.

“We were starting to stay even with the oil boom, and then the flood happened,” Graef said. “Now, we’re trying to get ahead of both of those.”

Finding workers to keep up has been tough, he said.

“Everybody has a ‘now-hiring’ sign in their window,” Graef said.

The Minot job market is at a point where wages at Menard’s is $13 per hour and pizza delivery drivers can earn $15 to $20 per hour.

Thank you, shale energy.

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