Monday, September 5, 2011

Life on an oil field 'man camp'

Life on an oil field 'man camp' _ not for everyone - National Business - MiamiHerald.com

As I was skimming the Sunday paper after Mass yesterday, I came across this AP article (linked above) about the enormous oil boom in North Dakota.  There is so much work on the oil field right now that the hundreds of workers far outnumber the available housing in the region of Williston, North Dakota.  So they've constructed a camp full of temporary housing units, which are minimalist one bed dorm rooms, in which you share a bathroom with the guy in the next room. 
The smell of plastic (a main component in the walls of these temporary structures) and pesticide (mice and insects are problems out here on the prairie) also can be a little overwhelming.  But to most of the men who come here, especially those who've lived elsewhere on the oil fields, the accommodation is just fine.
A worker really doesn't need much more than a place to lay his head, though, since the long hours of hard work leave a man without time or energy for much else.  But the money is good.  Very good.   The article highlights one worker who is making six figures, and reports:
He figures that, with more experience and plenty of overtime, he'll take home $4,000 to $5,000 a week.
As someone who has been out of work for too long, I admit I am tempted to look into a job in the North Dakota oil fields.  There is a modern oil rush there, and men from a variety of backgrounds are finding work.  Could there be work there for me, a man with no skills in that line of work?  And if there is unskilled work there, does it pay well enough to justify staying three states away from home?  I don't know, but I'd like to find out.  My landlord, too, is out of work.  He has an engineering degree, and has had to take temporary jobs here and there.  Right now he's got a short term job in the western part of Wisconsin, mining the earth for sand, which gets shipped down to Texas to aid the oil drilling there.  There does seem to be manufacturing jobs in remote places.  I hear that next year iron ore mining might open up in northern Wisconsin.  Those jobs are said to be in the neighborhood of $60,000/year.  Again, it's probably just a dream that I could get into something like that. But I'll look into anything at this point.  Who knows? Maybe my future is with the taconite in northern Wisconsin, or the oil in North Dakota.

3 comments:

Ella Fitz-Hywel said...

As one who has worked in Oil Camps and Railway Construction Camps these jobs are outsourced to specific firms that need educated men for Admin and Material Support(Logistical Support)as well as typical grunt work.

But the men live like immoral and unethical swinehunds and so must be bourne with with strong olfactory senses.

It is good if you have a brother in the faith to share such work with.

Let me know if your seriously thinking of making the transition.

Ella Fitz-Hywel said...

Last post is from Deacon Brian Hughes.

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Thanks for this information, Dcn Brian. I would indeed like to learn more.