Podcast – Oil Jobs in North Dakota

I had an opportunity to talk with Youtuber NYC JohnG, an oil-field worker who posts videos explaining the opportunities and challenges he has faced after moving to North Dakota from New York.  That was very interesting, and I also learned that the late Total CEO Christophe de Margerie liked to call fracking “rock massage.”

News Recap For the Week of October 20

Monday

  • FiveThirtyEight argued that utility consumers are unwittingly paying for gas leaks and lowering incentives for utilities to fix them.
  • Duke fracking researchers claimed to have a new technology to track leaks.
  • The Times Record News said that a Texas town may be about to pass an unconstitutional fracking ban.
  • Land values in the Permian basin are all over the map, said Bloomberg.
  • Ukraine, heavily dependent on Russia for natural gas, has struck a deal for winter supplies, CBS News said.

Tuesday

  • The Canadians are getting more aggressive about liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, said the Wall Street Journal.
  • Expect federal action on methane, says Fuel Fix.
  • Environmental groups are calling, so far in vain, for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to consider climate impacts when permitting export erminals for liquefied natural gas, said Greenwire.
  • EnergyWire found oil and gas drilling to be an explosive job.

Wednesday

  • The AEI’s Carpe Diem Blog said Texas has anchored the U.S. job recovery since 2008.
  • The Wall Street Journal ran an obituary on the colorful CEO of French energy company Total, Christophe de Margerie, who called fracking “rock massage.”
  • Market Realist reported a slight increase in natural gas rigs, turning away from a long downward trend.
  • Reefs love drilling rigs, said National Review Online.
  • New compressed natural gas refueling stations are set to open up in Islip, New York and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
  • Morning Consult poll found that 68% of voters think oil pipelines are safe.
  • Craft brewers jumped on the anti-pipeline bandwagon.

Thursday

  • Perhaps the Russia-Ukraine supply issues have not been fully worked out, said Fortune.
  • Saudi Arabia may finally be cutting back on supplies a little bit, said Bloomberg.
  • U.S. shale plays are probably still profitable, on average, right now.  But some plays are already probably in the red, said Business Insider.
  • Gas does not always have to come from dead dinosaurs, said the Economist.

Friday

  • Greenwire reported on the argument over oil and gas drilling on federal land.
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Republicans released a report showing collusion between environmentalists and the Obama Administration.
  • Mark Mills, a physicist, author,  and a Manhattan Institute senior fellow, had an editorial in the Wall Street Journal saying that low oil prices would not stop the oil and gas boom.
  • CNNMoney quoted “star bond investor” Jeffrey Gundlach to say the shale boom is about over.
  • Natural gas prices are lowering utility bills in the Northeast, says MyCentralJersey.com:
  • Fun fact, worldwide coal use is expanding, said Forbes.
  • J. Winston Porter, a consultant and former EPA assistant administrator,  had an editorial in The Hill touting the shale boom.

Interview with NYC JohnG (Starts at 16:30)

John explained that he grew up in New York City, but wanted to work in the oil business.  He heard about opportunities for oil jobs in North Dakota, so he started doing some internet research on the topic.  After a bunch of reading and watching some Youtube videos, he packed up his car and moved out to North Dakota.  He thought he had a job lined up before he moved, but that job did not work out.  He started applying for all kinds of jobs, and after a few days landed a job at a gas station.  That led to a job at a hotel.  All the while, John kept applying for oil field jobs.

John said he thought about quitting a heading back to New York.  But before he left, he landed a job as a rig hand.  A rig hand does pretty much anything that is needed around a drilling site.  It sounds like, for John at least, that largely included moving around pipes.  After doing that for awhile, John got a job as a frac technician.  That job largely includes constantly refueling trucks during a fracking job.  Someone has to move around and refuel the trucks because the trucks cannot move while a fracturing job is going on.  Each well site would take a couple weeks for the fracking process, and then he would be moved to a new site.  Today, John says he is working as a pumper.  That job includes monitoring equipment, checking gauges, and doing some light maintenance.

Overall, John seems happy with his decision to chase an oil job in North Dakota.  He was a bit disappointed it took so long for him to find a job in the oil field.  He also struggled to find housing for awhile, having to sleep in his truck for quite some time.  Some jobs have company housing, but John said he preferred not to live with his coworkers.  There is not much for entertainment, unless you like outdoor sports.  John said he finds hunting is particularly popular with his coworkers.  And he warned that the weather is very cold.  He said he was pretty focused on work, and had not heard much about the recent drop in oil prices.

John was really interesting to talk to.  It was nice to hear about him being able to chase and find an opportunity for himself.  Be sure to check out his videos: