During the first quarter of 2012 nearly $40 million worth of projects were permitted in Williams County, North Dakota—including three RV parks—with a fourth campground being planned in the Bakken (BOKK-en) Industrial Park.
Stacks and stacks of paper fill the make-shift office of the Williams County Planning and Zoning Department.
The growing staff recently took over what used to be the Williams County Commission meeting room. The setting is still in the organizational stage—but it gives everyone the room they need to handle the influx of construction projects.
“I am swamped—just like everybody else,” says Jill Edson, Williams County Planning and Zoning Administrator.
While the RV Parks will help ease concern about banning them from parking within the Williston City limits, they won’t be ready anytime soon, reports the Williston Daily Herald.
“The Williams County Commissioners instructed us to fast-track RV park applications,” Edson says.
The current applications will be reviewed in May by the planning and zoning commission. The three pending projects include:
- A 30-acre park being planned by David Loyens in the Missouri Ridge Commercial Park
- Bill Sheldon is seeking permission to build a 5-acre project with 38 lots in the Nesson Valley area
- Kevin Heinen is planning to build a 10-acre RV Park near 60th Street on the west side of US Highway 2
A fourth campground called the Prairie RV Park is being planned in the Bakken Industrial Park—which is located within the Williston city limits.
Edson says the county expected a lot more interest in RV campgrounds.
Other projects that were permitted during the first quarter of 2012 in Williams County were a Jehovah’s Witness church, a school in Ray, 36 single family homes, six shops, two water depots, eight office buildings, two ready mix plants, six commercial buildings, and two apartment buildings.
Edson says they have seen a lot of residential and commercial projects during the first three months of the year and they expect the pace to continue.
“They all want high density housing, townhomes, and apartments,” she says. “There are a lot of people that really do want to help with the housing shortage.”
Bakken/Three Forks Shale Oil Area
The Bakken and Three Forks are vast, deep rock formations rich in both natural gas and quality crude underlying much of the western third of North Dakota in addition to broad areas of both Montana and Saskatchewan, an area the size of France.
North Dakota’s oil and gas fields have continued to grow and produce as rapidly as labor, materials, housing, transportation, and state permitting allow.
Expansion continues to be fueled by innovative drilling and extracting technologies, demand, and favorable crude prices.
Explorers have targeted the Bakken system for oil and gas for many years.
The contemporary Bakken story began in Montana in 2000, when horizontal drilling started to open up the shale oil play.
In 2006, discovery of the Parshall Field in Mountrail County, North Dakota, created a second front of intense drilling activity.
Both the Bakken and the Three Forks have long been known as productive oil targets, but with mostly hit-and-miss economics—until the advent of a new approach to unconventional reservoirs.
It took long-lateral drilling and multi-stage fracks to tap the full potential of shale-oil production, first in the Bakken Shale, now in the Three Forks.
The Three Forks is some of the oldest production in the Williston Basin—it goes back to the 1950s. It has taken 50 years for the technology to catch up with this reservoir.
Current thinking puts recoverable oil from the Bakken Shale at just over two billion barrels, and from the Three Forks Formation at just under two billion.
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