Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Switzerland Developer Preparing To Break Ground On Half-Billion-Dollar Residential/Commercial Project In Williston, North Dakota -- Ground Zero For The Bakken


May 23, 2014: I received this as a comment, but comments are not google-searchable, so moved it here for easier access:
This link is a little more detailed than the Bloomberg on Williston Crossing. Note the history of the developers of Williston Crossing. Sounds like they are legit, have the resource funds already in place, intend to break ground March 2015 with completion date of 2017. 
They have a huge history of million of square feet of retail, malls, etc... I think this might actually be for real. 
The location is in question. If it is near the 4 mile west of town, the only available acreage left on 2/85 going into WIlliston (west of town) is the large parcel between the McCody concrete office building and Schlumberger's new facilty (north side of the highway). I'm not sure if there is 228 acres? Possibly. 
Otherwise, the only other land is west of the 4-mile corner on the south side of the highway (US Highway 2), between the 4-mile and Trenton-turn off? Could be interesting. 
Unless they are talking about the new interchange and bypass NORTH of Williston where Pat Murphy is planning his North Star Center (550 acre development breaking ground in June).
The link is interesting for other reasons.

Some time ago there was a presentation suggesting how many wells might have to be drilled in the Bakken before it's all over. That presentation was removed quickly from the internet suggesting that it came from proprietary source and was not approved for general release. I don't know. "Everyone" agrees that the "new" minimum number of Bakken wells will be 50,000. Many folks now talk about numbers higher than that, but like "whisper numbers" on Wall Street are seldom found in print (for obvious reason). This link, in this update:
Rapid expansion in the petroleum sector has led to unprecedented regional growth. Rolfstad says, the Bakken Shale currently has approximately 8,000 operating wells, and is adding about 2,100 per year. Given the multiple oil formations under the Williston area, and the trend towards situating multiple wells in one location and accessing surrounding territory via horizontal drilling, the latest thinking is that there could be 140,000 more wells to be drilled. He says completion times are indeed getting shorter, but there are decades of drilling ahead of us, and after, each well can produce for upwards of 40 years.  
In addition to that incredible data point, the very next paragraph:
The area's population is also growing at a swift pace -- nearly nine percent per year through 2017 -- and will continue to grow to 159,000 over the next 10 years. According to Rolfstad, "Each oil well leads to between one and three permanent production jobs. Drilling requires manpower, and that workforce is here today. Production requires manpower as well -- in fact a similar number of workers -- with a key difference being that this workforce can settle down in one place for an entire career. That's where we are headed." 
And so it goes. 

By the way, the numbers are starting to converge: a one-trillion-barrel reservoir; 140,000 wells; EURs of 500,000 bbls; 7% recovery rate. It's hard to keep track of the zeros but if you do the math, one comes to some very interesting ... should we say, coincidences?

I've posted this before: when I was last in Williston, I had an "aha" moment. The oil industry in the Bakken seemed to reach a plateau two, maybe three years ago with drilling 2,000 wells/year. The tea leaves suggest "everyone" is happy with 2,000 wells/year; over time, possibly less, but maintaining production between one million and two million bopd. My return visits to the Bakken over the past three years suggest that there are enough resources: workers, housing, rigs, pipeline, CBR terminals, etc., to comfortably manage 2,000 new wells/year. But the "aha" moment: the building continues at an incredible rate. Why? More natural gas processing plants need to be built. Permanent workers need to be in place to service the thousands of wells currently producing in North Dakota, and growing by 2,000/year. Yes, at some point, the manpower intensive drilling program will end -- but that might be 20, 30, or 40 years from now. 50,000 wells at 2,000 wells/year = 25 years. Meanwhile, each new well is going to require one to three new permanent workers. This does not include the number of opportunities that open up to "serve" these workers: restaurants, entertainment, shopping, banking, legal, medical, etc. I still think it would serve folks well to look at Calgary, Alberta, Canada, pre- and post-1947.
Original Post

A huge "thank you" to a reader for alerting me to the story.

It's hard to separate fact from fiction, the credible from the incredible, the pie in one's oven from "pie in the sky," but the Bakken never fails to provide exciting copy. If this pans out, this could be the story of the month; as fast as the Bakken seems to be moving, it is certainly the story of the hour, and published in Bloomberg, no less (in case that link breaks, same story in FuelFix): 
A Swiss developer is planning to build a $500 million real estate project in Williston, North Dakota, where a surging energy industry is leading to a population boom and rising property demand.
The two principals of developer Stropiq Inc. are at the International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Las Vegas this week trying to lure retailers to the 219-acre Williston Crossing project, scheduled to break ground in March. The 1 million-square-foot (93,000-square-meter) project will include retail, entertainment, hotel, office and multifamily buildings.
Stropiq and investors such as KKR & Co. are rushing to accommodate a ballooning population of energy workers in Williston, located in the oil-rich Bakken shale formation. The average rent for a small apartment in the western North Dakota town is higher than in New York or San Francisco, according to Apartment Guide. Along with housing, retail offerings in the city are in short supply, Stropiq executives said.
“If you want anything that doesn’t exist in a grocery store or Wal-Mart, you have to drive two hours,” said Terry Olin, a Stropiq principal and graduate of North Dakota State University in Fargo. “We’d like to change that as fast as we can.”
Stropiq already has a 93-unit apartment complex under development in Williston, with the first building scheduled to open in July, said Ellen Simone Weyrauch, a company principal. 
Folks may recall that General (ret) Petraeus just visited Williston a few weeks ago.
The booming economy has also lured other real estate investors, including KKR, developer of a housing development in Williston. Minot, North Dakota-based Investors Real Estate Trust (IRET) is building two apartment projects in Williston, the 44-unit Dakota Commons and the 288-unit Renaissance Heights, both scheduled to open next year. 
Stropiq Inc was also mentioned in a Reuters story back on June 30, 2013:
While billions of dollars in oil money may be rushing into North Dakota, big money has resisted financing large real estate deals there, barring some projects entirely and leading other developers to self-finance.
Many would-be financiers say the North Dakota oil patch real estate market is too hot to handle right now, with demand for housing outstripping supply, fueling high prices. The average two-bedroom apartment in the oil patch rents for more than $2,500 per month, helping drive land prices sky-high and sparking concern about a bubble. 
National homebuilders such as Pulte Group, D.R. Horton and Hovnanian Enterprises have yet to enter North Dakota. Pulte said it was focused on improving its market share on the East and West Coasts, as well as some Midwest states. The other two declined to comment. 
Some developers have decided to write their own checks in the meantime. Private equity firm KKR, which broke ground last month on 330 apartments as part of a 164-acre housing development, has yet to convince a bank to fund a construction loan. Plans for the total project include 810 apartments and lots for more than 300 single-family homes.


  1. Williston definitely needs decent family entertainment.....multiplex theatres, several GREAT restaurants, a Macy's, perhaps a NORDSTROM! It must also continue it's country traditions, perhaps a really great equestrian center.

    1. Agree completely. I was happy to see you include something very "novel": the equestrian center. A couple weeks ago, my most recent trip to the Bakken, I was thrilled to see so many (mostly) men on the south bank of the Missouri River (at the bridge southwest of Williston) fishing. There are some great boat ramps in the area, but I could imagine a really nice set-up near the bridge. I remember growing up attending a speed-boat race on Lake Sakakawea -- the really high-powered boats. It wouldn't surprise me if one of the car dealers in Williston gets involved boats in a big way before it's all over. But yet, an equestrian center would be awesome. I used to go horseback riding in the Killdeer Mountains.