A few weeks ago, a man walked into Command Center, a temporary labor and staffing service in downtown Dickinson, and said he needed a job after being laid off from a high-paying position on an oil rig.
The man said he’d only work for $35 an hour, needed a minimum of 50 hours guaranteed each week, and wanted his housing paid for along with a $150 a day per diem.
After realizing the man wasn’t joking, staffing specialist Rena Olheiser responded in the kindest manner she could muster.
“Well good luck with that,” she said with a smile.
The days of high wages, overtime, free meals and company housing for many oil workers in the Bakken are coming to an end. At least for now.
This is especially true around Dickinson, where there isn’t a drilling rig within 50 miles and likely won’t be until the price of oil climbs back to levels oil companies deem profitable.
“I tell them here, ‘Everyone is expendable. Everyone,’” said Kristen Vesledahl, Command Center’s branch manager.
The slowdown of oil production and drilling in the Bakken Oil Patch is apparent even in the sales and trade areas.
Foot traffic was a little slow at times Wednesday during the inaugural Bakken Oil Product & Service Show, exhibitors said, but picked up in the afternoon as attendees stayed busy networking and showcasing new products at the West River Ice Center. The trade show continues at 9 a.m. today.
“We’re seeing some of the effects of the slowdown,” said Jeff Zarling, president of DAWA Solutions Group, which promoted the event. “Just like everybody else in the marketplace, we’re waiting to see what’s going to happen and anxious to see when things are going to accelerate again.”
More than 200 exhibitors from across the country showcased products and services, and exchanged information while hundreds of others walked the Ice Center talking to business owners and representatives, taking in product demonstrations and workshops.
“Everybody likes to see lots of people, but there’s also the fact that they like to see quality people,” Zarling said. “It only takes one to make it all worth it.”
I took a drive through Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s South Unit near Medora on Sunday and captured a couple photographs of the park’s wild horses, including one close-up with a lone stallion. For more photos, check out my photo site.