Babies, wells have much in commonThe kind of excitement that expecting parents feel for the first time can be quite comparable to that of mineral rights owners who are finally getting their own oil well. I’m neither a parent nor somebody that has cashed in on a producing well, but I have witnessed the initial giddiness displayed by both. One begins with a positive EPT and the other with a stake in the ground.
By: By Mike Liudahl , The Jamestown Sun
Posted May 5, 2012
The kind of excitement that expecting parents feel for the first time can be quite comparable to that of mineral rights owners who are finally getting their own oil well. I’m neither a parent nor somebody that has cashed in on a producing well, but I have witnessed the initial giddiness displayed by both. One begins with a positive EPT and the other with a stake in the ground.
The conception of an oil well
After land has been leased to an oil drilling company it becomes a waiting game as to when they will actually go ahead and do it. The closer it gets to the end of the lease the better the chances are that a stake will one day appear somewhere on that acreage. A stake represents the exact spot where the hole will be drilled and an earthen pad is eventually constructed around it. The owners are generally pretty excited to have this happen, but aren’t normally willing to start sharing their good fortune with others until at least a couple of months in. People will find out then anyway because that’s about when the rig goes up. This practice of not sharing the latest news is similar to the approach taken by pregnant couples. I don’t know if anybody ever takes a picture of their pregnancy test devices that have turned pink, but there are plenty of soon-to-be Jed Clampetts who can’t resist snapping shots of their first stake. The one above belongs to my grandma and it’s safe to say that much of her joy has branched throughout her family tree.
There is a price to pay
When parents first find out they have a bun in the oven there’s reason to celebrate, but then they realize that there’s some things about life that will change forever. The same goes for the royalty owner who lives near or has invested a lot of time in the land where a well location is about to dominate nearly ten acres of it.
Landscape mostly unscathed for millions of years will change in a matter of days
Yes, more than one picture of the stake exists and the second one shared is pointing in the opposite direction toward where I grew up just northeast of Williston. It doesn’t look like much off in the distance, but it’s a part of my history that I thought would never change much. Although the view from here may not become very altered, it is only weeks away from having to be looked at from a man-made plateau of dirt that’s the size of a city block. The nearby rig on a different section has already changed the familiarity of the rolling hill horizon and that scar is about to double in size. The prairie road leading to it has now become a gravel monstrosity that could likely support the emergency landing of a C-130.
The tradeoff won’t be so bad in the long run
Even if they are benefiting financially from the boom it’s tough for many who liked or even loved things the way they were to accept their inevitable change. Some could maybe even compare it to an unwanted pregnancy and they may often be afraid to see if a stake has been put in a place where it will affect them. But, like an unexpected child, it eventually gets cherished as a blessing and there’s the potential that a camera could be worn out on it. As some scenarios in life drastically change there are others waiting to take their place.
We’re only in the first trimester
I’m not going to make the outlandish claim that the gestation period of an oil well from the stake to its actual production is comparable to that of a human baby, but it isn’t too far off if the fracturing crew can get to the fresh hole in a reasonable amount of time. If all goes well my grandma should see the birth of her healthy producing well happen by the end of 2012. Please stay tuned for the sonogram … I mean rig location construction pictures that should come in June. That’s when what I like to call “The Bakken Bump” should appear.
Liudahl is one of several bloggers contributing stories of life in North Dakota’s Oil Patch to patchlife.areavoices.com