Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to North America. For those looking to relocate within the US or Canada, discuss your experiences and pros/cons of each domestic region.
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If you're looking for a gig in the energy industry, the Bakken formation in North Dakota is turning into a smaller version of Oil Sands in Alberta. This might be a good opportunity for those interested in energy industry jobs. They pay well and there are many opportunities abroad for those with experience. However, be warned that these jobs are in "heavy industry" and accidents can be fatal. The security situation in US and Canada is relatively good, but abroad the safety situation can vary greatly. Also, often these jobs are located in remote areas where the environment can be quite inhospitable (think about the burning sands of North Africa or -40C at Oil Sands in Alberta). This is an industry for hardy folks who are willing to wear steel tipped boots and go places.
The Bakken oil field has fuelled a new boom town
I drive on, through the land that was the Old Wild West.
I am sure that it was in part that sense of spreading across a huge continent, the possibility of seemingly endless expansion, that gave America the feeling that there were always new frontiers to conquer.
Perhaps the daunting climate and the constant attacks by those who originally lived on this land heightened a sense that the world was a hostile place that had be wrestled into submission, that justice was rough or not at all, that violence was the answer, that when the chips came down you were on your own as well.
Now horizons and old certainties are shrinking.
But much of North Dakota is still empty, and it still feels like the barrens.
Williston seems like a gold-rush town. It is the base for the exploration of the Bakken oil field, the biggest in the US. It has been made possible because of developments in fracking - the technology that uses pressurized water to pulverize the rocks and force them to yield their treasure of oil and gas.
The town has quadrupled in size recently. After travelling for hours on nearly empty roads it is a shock to be hemmed in by huge trucks thundering past on every side.
Everywhere signs flash "For hire". Ramshackle buildings look as if they have sprung up overnight, offering BBQ or a place to stay.
Local legend says it cost more to rent a house here than it does in Manhattan. The state has the lowest unemployment in America.
"America's day is still coming," says oil industry consultant Kathy Neset
"If you can't find a job here there's something wrong with you," a truck driver tells me, sitting high in his cab about to deliver the special liquid that drives the fracking process.
On the edge of town there are "man camps". They have been formally renamed "crew camps" in the interests of equality, but the new name hasn't stuck.
Hastily constructed to house all the transient workers, they don't feel like Dodge. They are rather nice, spotlessly clean with neat rooms like student dorms. But they are testimony to the fact there is money to be made here.
The source of this new-found wealth is celebrated in the jewelers on Main Street. The window is full of pen holders, desk clocks and ornaments, in gold, all in the shape of oil derricks.
The 'next frontier'
Fracking is hugely controversial, both for its impact on the local environment and CO2 emissions. But it is here to stay, and it makes a real difference to America's future.
The projections are that the US will be energy independent by 2020. All that cheap energy is already having an impact, one of the factors behind the return of industry to the country.
Standing next to huge "nodding donkeys" that suck the oil from the earth, I talk to Kathy Neset, who has worked in the industry since the 1980s as a consultant. She's a geologist by training.
"These wells right here are producing something like 800 to 1,000 barrels a day, for each one," she tells me.
"That oil is about two miles under our feet and I anticipate it will last for another 20 to 30 years. That is our energy security. "
She thinks this is evidence of America's future:
"I think our country is going up, up, up. The potential is shown right here in North Dakota."
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