Why Oil Price Declines Are a Good Thing

Posted in Fracking Controversy

Why Oil Price Declines Are a Good Thing

The headlines in late 2014 have focused on Ebola (no longer front page news in the U.S.), the early winter in the lower 48 (surprise! Winter arrives every year!), and the drop in crude oil prices. Of course, this latter news item is of particular concern to those in the oil and gas business, as it should be. Remember, though, that the news media tends to be alarmist when reporting a story. For example: global warming – recently renamed “climate change” since the “warming” aspect hasn’t been working out – is the latest bugaboo that will end all civilization as we know it. The media needs to market a compelling story to sell papers (apparently this model isn’t working out very well as newspaper subscriptions continue to slide, however.) Oil price declines are a fun subject to throw out onto front pages as 2014 comes to an end. Sure, oil prices are declining. And yes, this means that drilling activity, especially in certain high-cost shale plays, will slow down. But we decided to list a few reasons why oil price declines are a good thing: Oil isn’t going away any time soon. You would think that the media is reporting on oil as somehow entering its “last gasp” of usefulness to society. Hilarious. Now, take a look around you the next time you drive to the grocery store. What do you see on the road and in the parking lot all around you? That’s right: cars. Lots of them. They aren’t going away. If anything, they are increasing in number. Yes, there are a handful of electric-powered Chevy Volts and Teslas out there. Frankly, that’s just fine. More cars running on different fuels? Bring ’em on! That means more jobs in battery manufacturing. Besides: tires, windshields, and seating materials will still have to be made somehow, no matter what the car uses for fuel. OPEC and Russia are losing influence, thanks to fracking. OPEC has never been a warm and fuzzy entity towards the U.S. or other western nations. Take a look at some of the members of OPEC: Iran, Venezuela, and Nigeria, for example. Real sweethearts. OPEC members are taking a hit due to the worldwide decline in oil prices? Awesome. Even Russia, though not a member of OPEC, has to be sweating the recent drops in crude prices. As Vladimir Putin wrings his hands over the prospect of European countries getting liquified natural gas (LNG) via tanker from shale producers in the U.S., Iran simultaneously has less money to spend on placating its restive population and a belligerent nuclear energy program. Another of the world’s largest oil producers, Nigeria, has developed a well-deserved reputation for exporting con jobs and scams to upstanding citizens the world over. We don’t wish poverty or strife for the average folks in any of these countries, but we would hope that the...

Read More »

Oilfield Housing Shortage Solution: an RV?

Posted in Fracking Controversy

Oilfield Housing Shortage Solution: an RV?

Do enough research on moving to the most active fracking “boom” areas, like those in North Dakota or Texas, and you’ll eventually come across stories about oilfield workers living in recreational vehicles (RVs) on a full-time basis. RVs have popped up near some shale boom areas as workers have flowed in and overwhelmed the local supply of housing options. In some areas, RVs have become the only viable housing available. However, can an RV work as your oilfield housing shortage solution? What if standard housing can be found for a decent rate? What are the costs, and will you save money compared to living in a motel or an apartment? These are complex questions, and they should be explored in depth. Let’s take a look at RV life… Necessity – Yes, if you’re planning on looking for work in the Bakken region of North Dakota, you’ll want to consider living in an RV as a potential housing solution. But it’s far from the only option, and it may not be the best one. There are plenty of drawbacks to RV living when compared to apartment living, to be sure. On the other hand, RV life has advantages for some, even when standard rental housing options are abundant, like they are in oilfield regions located far from the Bakken. The housing shortage in North Dakota is slowly being addressed by civic leaders in the state as well as new construction projects being undertaken by private interests. So, in time, the advantages of RV living in the Bakken will be reduced. Costs – Full-time RV living does offer some cost advantages over more standard housing options. But this isn’t always the case, and you’ll also incur expenses while living in an RV that you won’t have if you simply rent a room or an apartment. You’ll still have to pay space rent to park your “house”, for example. In addition, campgrounds won’t always allow full-timers and may put a time limit – say, two weeks or so – on the duration of a full-timer’s stay. Living in an RV might allow you some savings on such things as utilities; but you’ll likely spend those savings on things like hook-ups or maintenance costs. Don’t forget: your biggest expense will be the RV itself. While there are plenty of used trailers and coaches on the market for reasonable prices, you’ll still have to shell out a big chunk of money to purchase your new home. Financing the cost is an option, but only if you’ll know you’ll be able to handle the monthly payments. Because you’ll be purchasing an item that most banks consider to be a luxury item as opposed to shelter, you won’t find agreeable interest rates. Vehicles – What kind of RV to buy? A self-propelled unit, like a Winnebago, won’t be practical as you’ll need wheels just to get...

Read More »

How Fracking is Renewing Ohio Towns

Posted in Fracking Controversy

How Fracking is Renewing Ohio Towns

While Canton, Ohio is known to most folks outside of the Buckeye State as the place where the National Football League was founded, it also employed thousands of folks who once made vacuum cleaners for Hoover and industrial bearings for Timken, Inc. Likewise, Youngstown, Ohio was once a mighty steel producing powerhouse, employing armies of men and women to help produce products used in autos, appliances, and the nation’s infrastructure. But all that industrial glory began to wane starting in the 1970’s as the U.S. transitioned to a post-industrial economy. Many manufactured goods began to be produced more cheaply overseas, at the same time that more American jobs in industries like information technology, healthcare, and services grew in number. Cities like Canton and Youngstown experienced factory closings, population losses, dramatically lowered tax revenues, and crushing economic woes which lasted for decades. In fact, only a few short years ago, Youngstown became a model for how to intelligently deal with the abandoned houses and shrinking neighborhoods that accompany population loss. These days, however, as noted by a recent New York Times article, both Canton and Youngstown are seeing economic renewal as the shale oil boom creates increasing demand for the types of goods that these former industrial titans are ideally positioned to produce once again. Not only do the two cities offer the collective knowledge and existing infrastructures to take on new manufacturing concerns, they are also both uniquely positioned geographically near the Utica and Marcellus shale plays of Ohio and Pennsylvania. America’s oil and gas companies not only require know-how to extract energy, they also require high-tech manufactured products and skilled workers to produce them. Thanks to fracking, Canton is becoming more than an economic “has-been” best-known for its pro football legacy, while Youngstown is reinventing itself as a city whose identity no longer has to be tied to a morose Bruce Springsteen ballad. Visit the Ohio and Pennsylvania fracking jobs pages to find oilfield jobs in the Utica and Marcellus shale regions. Note: the anti-fracking community, especially via comments posted in response to the New York Times article referenced above, loves to criticize fracking’s apparent lack of concern for the environment. This disdain for environmental issues is a myth, and the industry is extremely well-regulated (perhaps overly so). We have posted many articles on this site which takes those who believe fracking is detrimental to the environment and the health of local residents to task. We are puzzled as to why those who accept anti-fracking arguments with little or no scrutiny are so vehemently against an economic force that can improve the lives of millions of otherwise financially distressed families. The towns mentioned in this post have experienced wrenching job and population losses as illustrated in the table below. Fracking is helping to pull these municipalities up from disasterous economic declines, and should be embraced for the benefits...

Read More »

Watch FrackNation Online

Posted in Fracking Controversy

Watch FrackNation Online

Since its release in early 2013, the film documentary “FrackNation” has taken direct aim at the anti-fracking community as well as one of the chief spokespeople for anti-frackers: Josh Fox. Mr. Fox is the man behind the anti-fracking movie “Gasland”, a “documentary” that has been shown to be inaccurate on many counts. Unfortunately, now there is a sequel, “Gasland 2”, which is also riddled with questionable “facts”. In FrackNation, Phelim McAleer, the investigative journalist behind the film, tries repeatedly to interview Mr. Fox to get him to back up the dubious claims that he makes in Gasland, to no avail. It’s unfortunate that those who support anti-fracking efforts are willing to do so by touting questionable claims like Mr. Fox does. And for quite a while, Gasland was largely accepted as factual by the media and many celebrities. Fortunately, however, FrackNation is now more accessible to more people than it was when it was first released. Until recently, McAleer’s film was only available at certain select theatres for very brief periods. But now you can watch it on Netflix from the comfort of your home. Finally, the anti-fracking “industry” has some competition. It’s entirely possible that Mr. Fox and Gasland have had more to do with creating, and sustaining, the current anti-fracking movement within the U.S. and around the world than any other single entity. Because of this, those who believe the questionable premises that Gasland puts forth – including many celebrities – need to be called to account. These same celebrities should be noted for the harm that they cause when taking a stand against fracking. Unfortunately, as FrackNation points out over and over, such accountability is not only difficult to come by, it tends to result in confrontations that are borderline violent. That’s too bad, because the anti-fracking community deserves to uphold the same standards of honesty that it demands of pro-fracking supporters. This much can be said: fracking is a decades-old technology that is presently changing the dynamics surrounding energy all around the globe as well as within the U.S., and its positive effects are far-reaching and growing each day. The technology is not perfect, and hydraulic fracturing does present problems that must be addressed (which is happening) and requires regulations that must be implemented (which they are). But to ignore the ill effects of so-called “green” energy sources like solar or wind power is also counterproductive when considering the energy sources of the future. We now know that wind energy results in the deaths of thousands of birds (including those that are endangered) every year. Solar power is also harming wildlife. In addition, solar power components require manufacturing processes that cause toxic chemicals to be released within countries that have few environmental regulations or none at all. No single energy source will meet the needs of the world’s population in the decades to come without...

Read More »

End of Housing Shortages in North Dakota?

Posted in Fracking Controversy

End of Housing Shortages in North Dakota?

It’s no secret that the Bakken region of North Dakota is experiencing an unprecedented oil boom. Accompanying this boom, of course, have been a number of social problems. Perhaps the most significant of these issues is the shortage of housing in North Dakota, especially in major Bakken boom towns like Williston. But there are signs that the end of housing shortages in North Dakota might be on the way. Along with the oil boom, North Dakota is now experiencing a housing boom. As the Williston Herald points out in a recent article, the region added 22,000 new housing units from 2011 to 2013. A number of counties in North Dakota have ranked among the top 100 across the U.S. for housing growth. In fact, Williams County, where Williston is the county seat, ranked as the fastest growing county in the nation for housing construction. While most of us are aware that Williston is a fast-growing city due largely to fracking, few know just what that growth rate is in numerical terms. The Census Bureau has announced that Williston grew at a rate of nearly 14% between July of 2012 and July of 2013. This spectacular population growth has led to an eye-popping rate in the growth of housing construction. During the same period, Williston saw a 15.6% increase in its inventory of housing units. Unfortunately, continued housing shortages in Western North Dakota are causing ongoing hardship for many, and are forcing long-time residents to either move or pay far more for housing than they’ve ever had to before. However, it’s possible that these challenges will start to fade as housing construction goes forward in the Bakken...

Read More »

Fracking Creates Non-Fracking Jobs

Posted in Fracking Controversy

Fracking Creates Non-Fracking Jobs

No less than the respected business publication Barron’s is calling “fracking” one of the top news stories of the past year. Fracking continues to improve the lives of the many folks who work in the oilfields while improving the energy picture not only for the United States, but the world. And now, as Barron’s reports, fracking creates non-fracking jobs as it allows companies to use energy more inexpensively. So inexpensively, in fact, that companies that had been conducting manufacturing overseas where labor is cheaper than in the U.S. are considering moving their operations back to the states. Cheaper energy costs to operate plants and equipment is offsetting the higher labor costs presented in the U.S. Natural gas is becoming more and more abundant, thanks to fracking, as it continues to replace coal and other energy fuels that had been dominant in manufacturing environments. In addition, natural gas is a “cleaner” fuel than coal, so while the anti-fracking crowd might complain about fracking’s alleged negative impact on the environment, it can’t argue that increased natural gas use is somehow also detrimental to the planet. Fracking: creating vast numbers of jobs in the oilfields, indirectly increasing the numbers of U.S.-based manufacturing jobs, and helping to lower greenhouse gases. Only a dedicated anti-fracking zealot would be upset about the fracking boom. To find a fracking job near you visit this...

Read More »