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"Boomtown: America's Biggest Inland Oil Discovery In 50 Years"
By Zach Dundas// GOOD Magazine
Photo by Brian Paumier
The story started out in a Montana newspaper, then grew into a minor legend: An unnamed rancher out in the state’s far east, a sparsely populated town along the North Dakota border, received his first royalty check for crude oil pumped out of his pastureland. Oil is the big news in this area, which the locals call MonDak; on both sides of the border, new wells can mean life-changing money for the families who own some of the toughest, driest farm and ranch land in the country.
So the story goes that the farmer opened the envelope and looked at the check, the first quarterly installment. He read the amount, read it a second time, then he sent the check back. He must have thought the damn fools had put the decimal point in the wrong place—$1.1 million, an unfathomable fortune, just couldn’t be right.
The tale circulated this fall in and around Sidney, a town of 5,000 people that anchors a huge swath of eastern Montana’s gold and slate-gray hills. Sidney is not part of the Montana where movie stars buy trophy ranches: temperatures swing from minus 40 degrees in the winter to 110 in the summer, and no one would confuse recreation with the battle to squeeze a living out of the land.
The town also happens to sit at the epicenter of the biggest inland oil discovery in the United States in 50 years. Two miles below the surface lies a stratum of oil known as the Bakken formation, holding an epic haul of crude—some surveys suggest up to 200 billion barrels, a near-Saudi-sized reserve. And since the end of 2000, when new drilling technology and rising prices combined to unleash the find, Montana and North Dakota have become the underground rock stars of American oil, among the few states recording production increases. With oil prices soaring above $100 a barrel, it’s like giant vaults of cash opened beneath the MonDak soil...
Full story at link.
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