WILLISTON, N.D.—Amid the abandoned worker camps, idled drilling rigs and empty field-office parking lots of western North Dakota, a shale industry reshaped by the oil-price collapse is beginning to emerge.
As the number of failed operators mounts, the surviving companies are laying the groundwork for what they forecast will be an era of slower but steadier growth in the state at the epicenter of the U.S.’s energy boom.
Cash-strapped operators are dialing back or abandoning North Dakota. But the survivors—many of which are bigger and more diversified players—are finding ways to make the Bakken Shale formation pay even at low oil prices by trimming budgets, improving field logistics and focusing on their best assets.
This downturn marks the first bust since the rise of so-called unconventional shale-oil plays nearly a decade ago, fueled by new technologies, ready access to capital and a surge in crude prices to record highs. One of the world’s highest-cost oil fields, the Bakken is key test ground for the U.S. energy industry’s wherewithal.
“You can’t shut down the Bakken. The American oil industry is getting smarter and more efficient” in how and where it drills, said Kathy Neset, a veteran geologist who owns a consultancy in Tioga, N.D. “We’ve still got pins on the wall,” she said, pointing to a map with the location of active rigs.The rest at the link.