Recent estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey indicate that the Bakken Shale - the oil-rich geological formation that underlies much of North Dakota and reaches into Montana - contains far more oil than previously thought. The USGS now believes the Bakken contains twice as much oil, and three times as much natural gas, as their previous estimates.
Some previous posts on this blog have focused on workers injured in the oil fields that have sprung up in Montana and other states in connection with the Bakken Shale oil boom. But the boom has had another unfortunate side effect: the number of truck accident victims in the Bakken region is also on the rise.
An explosion and fire at an oil processing facility in eastern Montana has injured three workers, at least two of whom were taken to a local hospital. The facility is in Wibaux, near the North Dakota border and at the eastern edge of the Bakken Shale crude oil formation. The facility takes slop oil, a waste material from the oil production process, and converts it into pipeline-grade crude oil.
Our nation's oil fields, in Montana and elsewhere, are responsible for a lot of well-paying jobs. But those jobs come at a price. Oil fields can be dangerous places, and those who work in them face a risk of injury, or even death, not found in many other occupations. Recently a 49-year-old man from Carlsbad, New Mexico became the latest worker to die in an oil field accident in that state.
Few would dispute that the Bakken oil boom has brought significant economic benefits to Montana and western North Dakota. But those benefits come with a price. In the Bakken oil region, an increase in highway and oil field accidents is putting a strain on local hospitals.
A recent post in this blog talked about a class presented by OSHA to oil field supervisors to address safety issues in the oil fields. The need for such a class was brought home recently, when a 29-year old Utah man became the latest victim of an oil field accident.
Oil and gas exploration in Montana has led to the creation of numerous well-paying jobs in recent years. But hand in hand with the job growth has come an increase in oil field accidents. Recently, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration held a class to instruct oil field supervisors about safety risks in the industry.