USA TODAY returns to North Dakota, land of the Bakken Formation, plumbing the depths of social tension produced by a sudden flow of wealth into a laconic, taciturn, restrained people, i.e., Americans of Norwegian descent. From “Oil boom creates millionaires and animosity in North Dakota“:
Now, after decades of watching their children flee the prairie for brighter futures elsewhere, North Dakotans in the state’s sparsely settled west find themselves sitting atop the largest contiguous oil deposit in the lower 48 states. There are an estimated 4.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil in a deposit under parts of the Dakotas, Montana and Canada — about half what the USA uses in a year.
“It’s bigger than Texas,” says Herb Geving, 75, of Parshall, a former landfill owner who has two oil wells on his land.
“It’s unexpected, a blessing,” says Larry Lystad, 57, of Stanley. He is among the descendants of Scandinavian and German homesteaders now looking to reap as much as $1 million a year per well from oil leases and royalties.
“These people have been farming rocks for generations,” he says. “It’s like winning the lottery.”
Well, not quite. There’s quite of bit investment involved. Good thing oil companies make profits.
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