Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An oil boom for the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation

An unprecedented oil boom has struck a remote Indian Reservation in West Central North Dakota. During the past year, the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation has seen investment into oil well drilling that is unlike anything seen in the US. The oil drilling can now provide jobs for anyone on the reservation who wants one. The Fort Berthold Reservation Authority hopes to put money from tax revenue of the oil drilling to fund health care, infrastructure improvements and more.

From this Associated Press article that we found at NPR, we read more about the oil boom.

"There is probably more opportunity here than people have had in their lifetimes," said Marcus Levings, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes. Roads are now sometimes clogged with traffic, including Hummers and expensive pickup trucks. The local casino is buzzing with free-spending locals. And tribal members who had moved away to find work are now moving back for the abundant good-paying jobs.

Tribal officials say the oil has helped right a wrong done to the tribes in the 1950s, when more than a tenth of the reservation was flooded by the federal government to create Lake Sakakawea, a 180-mile-long reservoir.

Oil companies are now drilling beneath the big lake, using an advanced horizontal drill technique. Recently completed regulatory paperwork removed the last obstacle.

Since the boom began, lease payments of more than $179 million have been paid to the tribe and its members on about half of the reservation land, tribal record show. Millions of dollars more in royalties and tax revenue are also rolling in.

Levings said the tribe will use its money to pay off debt, and bankroll such things as roads, health care and law enforcement.

The reservation contains portions of six counties, covering more than 1,500 square miles. It lies atop a portion the oil-rich Bakken shale formation, which the U.S. Geological Survey estimates holds 4.3 billion barrels of oil that can be recovered using current technology. The agency said the Bakken was the largest oil deposit it has ever assessed.

State demographer Richard Rathge said 28 percent of people on the reservation were living in poverty in 2000, the latest figures available. More than 40 percent did not have a job at that time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good for those Indians! Hope they do well!