From the booming oil-rich Bakken region echo the cries of flocking workers for dwellings and hometown amenities.
Stretching across North Dakota, Montana, and Saskatchewan, and covering about 200,000 square miles, the Bakken presents a vast frontier of oil production for contractors, workers and families, not unlike a gold rush. Located in the Williston Basin, the Bakken is considered North America’s largest light sweet crude oil reserve.
In a 2012 Williston Petroleum Banquet speech, Barry Asmus with the National Center for Policy Analysis said that what is happening in North Dakota with the Bakken is nothing short of a miracle, reports the Williston Herald.
And with the sensational growth comes an urgent need for proper accommodations and retail development to support blossoming boomtown populations.
“All the things we take for granted are sorely missed, such as housing and ‘hometown’ retailers,” says Jay Moore of Minn.-based real estate developer Oppidan Investment Company. Oppidan develops permanent apartment buildings and commercial properties.
“All this work to be done and people don’t have any place to live,” says Randy Pruett, spokesperson for temporary housing manufacturer Target Logistics LLC.
Oppidan and Target Logistics sprout places to live and work in North Dakota to accommodate the influx of new businesses and more workers.
Oppidan’s development investments total more than $150 million across the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota. From Williston to Watford City to Minot, Stanley, and Tioga, the company roots residential apartment and commercial complexes.
“The housing, retail shops, restaurants and banks help communities grow,” Moore says. The company also creates retail positions to serve support services companies.
“In cities like Williston, you can’t find a place to stay,” Moore adds. Oppidan is investing in five apartment buildings to help with housing and commercial development, plus retail development.
Oppidan’s Watford Plaza development, a 120,000-square-foot shopping center on 12 acres in Watford City includes everything from a grocery and liquor store to a Chinese restaurant and a shoe store. The center is expected to open in July.
“We need 100 employees in Watford at stores, restaurants and mailbox places,” Moore says.
Oppidan will open another branch in the Watford Plaza development as a base for North Dakota operations.
Tackling the crunch
Target Logistics provides turnkey workforce housing, catering, security and transportation to support services clients across the Bakken and the world. Headquartered in Boston, the company has temporary housing camps across North Dakota.
In the Bakken alone, Target Logistics operates 12 properties with more than 4,000 beds. In Tioga, the new Tioga Lodge serves up to 1,038 people. The Watford City Lodge also provides housing for 334 oil, gas and mining workers.
Target Logistics founder and CEO Brian Lash describes the housing as well-organized, comfortable solutions for workforce accommodations with more than just four walls. By building housing, the company also creates work in remote locations.
“Which ever term you use — temporary housing, crew camp, modular housing, emergency housing or extended stay hotel — we serve up nutrition, home-style comfort, entertainment and fitness amenities,” Lash says.
Soup-to-nuts turnkey service ranges from site design and construction to operations and security, plus housekeeping and catering. These services help meet the needs of remotely located workers facing challenges such as fatigue and exhaustion.
With growing demand for housing, Target Logistics has 10 sites throughout North Dakota offering varying amenities. The Watford City Lodge employs 30 people. Amenities include flat-screen television with cable, free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour kitchen and a gym.
“The Bakken is where our growth has been beyond even my wildest dreams,” Lash says.
The wheels of development are continually striving to lessen the strain of that growth. With labor shortages complicated by housing shortages, companies like Oppidan and Target Logistics invest across the oil-producing region to meet growing accommodation needs.
“Geoscientific and technological advances have unlocked massive potential in the Bakken,” Pruett says. “This is both a bane and a boon for the region.”