New Town, ND - It takes some heavy equipment to keep the Bakken boom going in North Dakota.
And moving it around can wreak havoc on highways and roads in rural parts of the state.
Jim Olson reports on the balancing act between oil production and road integrity.
Oil and gas production has pumped up North Dakota's economy - pouring billions of dollars into state coffers, local businesses, and personal wallets.
(Ron Ness, ND Petroleum Council) "The productivity of the individual Bakken wells is astounding right now."
But while a Bakken well brings economic life, the heavy equipment needed to extract the oil is taking a toll.
(Trudy Ruland, Mountrail Co. Commissioner) "These loads are taking the life out of a lot of these roads and it's becoming dangerous."
Trudy Ruland is a county commissioner who serves on a committee of the Western Dakota Energy Association dealing with permits and fees designed to recoup some of the costs associated with repairing damaged county and township roads.
(Trudy Ruland, Mountrail Co. Commissioner) "They purchase a permit to be allowed on these roads. And what we're finding is we can't keep up with the damage."
(Daryl Anderson, Ham's Well Service) "We've got to be able to work, but we certainly don't want to wreck the roads either."
Daryl Anderson operates Ham's Well Service in Westhope and Mohall. He has heavy trucks on local roads pretty much every day - like this workover rig operating right now east of Mohall. The derrick you see in the air is actually part of the truck - it all collapses down onto the truck bed for transport. A permit for a truck like that can run into the hundreds of dollars per mile. As Anderson told a panel on the subject at the WDEA annual meeting this week, that cost can make supplying equipment to some of the more marginal wells too high.
(Daryl Anderson, Ham's Well Service) "I grew up in North Dakota on a farm so I understand that part of it - we don't want to hurt the roads, everyone's gotta be able to use them."
Trucy Ruland says it's good to get a conversation going on the issue - because even with some permits costing several thousand dollars for a single move, it doesn't come close to covering the cost of repairs for townships and counties in oil country. Jim Olson, KX News.
Daryl Anderson of Ham's Well Service says it's important to remember that, in addition to permit fees paid by companies like his, counties also receive oil impact funds from the state to help cover costs of road repairs.
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