North Dakota's Future - The Legislature Wants to Know

Bakken population will increase ~30%
Bakken population will increase ~30%

Throughout 2014, the energy market experienced unprecedented production along with wildly fluctuating prices in crude, leaving many to wonder about the long-range future of the Bakken Shale region.

The North Dakota legislature recently commissioned a massive study from KLJ, Inc. to analyze the economic forecast and possible trends for 19 counties through the year 2019. This unprecedented study concentrated on areas such as population growth, employment, housing.

The oil boom means more job opportunities in companies directly involved in oil and gas production as well as in industries that indirectly support this production. The study predicts that these jobs will spur a population increase in some North Dakota counties of more than 30%, a staggering number compared to the national average of 1.5%. This increase will add a strain on the already overtaxed housing market in the area, where a great deal of permanent housing has been depleted. In even the most modest scenario, the study anticipates that housing needs will increase by close to 30,000 units for the Minot, Dickenson and Williston regions. This may play a factor in the population projection as workers will have to make hard decisions about whether to bring family along as they move to the area for work.

Permanent population will be largely driven by the supply of permanent housing in the region,” the study says. “Due to a lack of housing, the region will continue to have a total (service) population that is substantially larger than the permanent population measured by the U.S. Census.

KLJ’s study was completed before oil prices began to drop sharply. Analysts will watch closely to see if falling prices affect the accuracy of this forecast.


New Bakken Man Camp Coming Soon

Dining Hall at a Target Logistics Property
Dining Hall at a Target Logistics Property

Target Logistics, a Boston-based builder and operator of housing projects primarily for the energy industry, secured a 30-million contract to provide lodging for Bakken Shale oilfield workers over the next three years.

According to the company, it will provide workforce housing to one of the largest independent (non-integrated) crude oil and natural gas companies in the United States. Target Logistics did not reveal their client in a company statement announcing the new contract in early April 2014.

Fueled by double-digit, oil-weighted production growth, this exploration and production pioneer turned to us for a well-organized, upgraded housing solution,” says Target Logistics President and Chief Operating Officer Brad Archer.

Unlike other housing  in the Bakken Shale region, the activity of residents is monitored. The company has strict rules against alcohol on the premises and guests of workers are not allowed to stay overnight, including worker's spouses.

The way it works is oil companies pay Target Logistics to house and monitor their workers, and the oil company then offers housing accommodations to workers as part of their compensation. This is important to companies seeking to retain employees in a region where there are limited housing options, and other companies vying for workers with attractive housing packages.

Recently, a study done by ApartmentGuide pushed Williston, ND to the top spot for the highest rent area in the U.S. According to the publication, a 700-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath apartment in Williston, North Dakota can cost more than $2000 per month.

Read more: Williston, ND Rent Soars Past Highest Rent Areas of U.S. to Top Spot

Dormitory-style housing, such as that offered by Target Logistics to employees of certain companies, will not be an option for everyone. In which case, there are other options to consider. Check out the Lodging page on to see recent postings for Bakken housing, hotels and man camps.


Williston, ND Rent Soars Past Highest Rent Areas of U.S. to Top Spot

Apartments In Williston, ND
Apartments In Williston, ND

A study done by Apartment Guide in February 2014 puts Williston, North Dakota in the top spot for highest average entry-level rent.

According to the publication, a 700-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath apartment in Williston, North Dakota can cost more than $2000 per month. For readers on this site, the explanation for this growth is crystal clear: the Bakken Shale!

Williston, ND is located in the heart of the shale play, and is generally considered to be the epicenter of the Bakken. 

Read more:Bakken Lodging

A quick online search also indicates monthly rent is steep in Watford City, ND. That's not surprising considering Watford City is about an hour southeast of Williston.

Williston, ND Growing Pains

Since the oil boom began in North Dakota, the small town of Williston has seen many changes. From increased crime rates to housing shortages, the city has experienced significant growing pains over the past several years.

Read moreBakken Crime Causes Feud Between Senators

When apartments have been unavailable, oilfield workers have resorted to living in motorhomes. RV park sites, some fully sheltered to keep out cold North Dakota winters, can go as high as $1500 per month during peak season.

Impact on North Dakota Residents

North Dakota saw a 200% jump in homelessness in 2012. There are now 2,069 homeless people in the state of 699,628, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

In July 2013, North Dakota received four awards from HUD for $7.5 million. North Dakota Senators John Hoeven, Heidi Heitkamp and Congressman Kevin Cramer commented jointly about the funding:

The development of safe, affordable housing is absolutely necessary to relieve the strain and high-costs our residents face due to North Dakota’s severe flooding and housing shortages. These funds will help build stronger communities, provide shelter and housing for least fortunate among us and support North Dakota’s continued economic growth.

In the 2010 census, 14,700 people called Williston, ND home. Since the boom began, the population has doubled to ~30,000 people.

Read more at and

Bakken Real Estate Developers Can't Get Financing

Reuters published an article detailing why many real estate developments in North Dakota can't get construction financing. The big lenders simply haven't stepped up to the plate in North Dakota.

There are many reasons, but one is the reluctance of workers to build homes in the area. In Williston, only 20 permits for homes were issued through May of 2013, but 482 permits for apartments had been issued over the same period. The type of Bakken housing being developed sends a signal to lenders that residents are here to stay.....and will be spending a bigger portion of their paychecks in the area. Home building indicates people plan to reside in the area much longer than apartment rentals.

There were several items of note in the article:

  • Average two-bedroom apartment rents for $2,500/month
  • Banks are afraid of an oil bust
  • ND has the 4th LOWEST mortgage foreclosure rate
  • KKR is self-funding a 330 apartment, 164-acre development
  • The largest banks, BoA & Chase, don't have branches in ND
  • Wages at local retail outlets is high at $15-16/hr

You can read the full article at

Residential Apartment Rates Almost Triple In The Past Two Years

Apartments In Williston, ND
Apartments In Williston, ND

It's no secret rental rates have skyrocketed over the past two years in Western North Dakota.

In Williston, residents of a two bedroom apartment have seen their rent go from $850 per month to $2,000 per month.

Almost 500 new units have been permitted, so the hope is prices will come down. Currently, "Fair Market Rent" is considered $1,000 for a two bedroom apartment.

Expensive rent has also driven the low income status range for a single person to $36,000.