Oil & Water

We had filmed some lovely stuff with Bob, a truck driver hauling water in the oil fields of North Dakota for a feature doco called “Columbus, Oil Rigs and American Dreams” but unfortunately when it came to the edit, he made the cutting room floor and it was such a shame to see his contribution, his time and effort to us go to waste.

So with the idea of producing a short film for the web, i got to work in the edit suite and I was happy with the end result. Sure, I would love to have had other scenes to tie the elements together a little bit better, but I think what has come out is a fascinating insight into the thousands of men who leave their homes every year to work in the lucrative oil fields up in the forgotten prairies of North Dakota, so far away from their loved ones and for many of them, for months on end.

The story is set in the small town of Columbus, population 120, give or take. The town sits on the edge of a large oil boom. Workers from all over the US are flocking here. Bob has decided to live on the fringes, away from the riff raff.

The housing situation though is dire and he finds himself living in a trailer truck which has been converted into dormitories.

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Bob works twelve hour shifts. He will split day and night shifts with a second driver. His job is to fill his container with water from various aquifers in the region and deliver it to the hundreds of gas and oil rigs to help with the frakking and for cooling down the pipes.

The weather conditions in North Dakota are extreme with hot summers, followed by extremely cold winters which can begin as early as October and end finish as late as May with temperatures reaching well past -30 celsius.

Working in the field is gruelling and dangerous. You need to be made of the sterner stuff if you are to survive out here.

I think that’s what makes the US so fascinating to me. The landscape and it’s people change so much from state to state.

The first time I had arrived in this small town, I had just come from LA, having spent a week filming on a different project and it was a massive culture shock. I felt I had gone back in time by thirty years. One minute I was hanging out with the coolest people and the next I was in a bar full of oil field workers (oil field trash they are called here).

It couldn’t have been more extreme and adventurous. I was witnessing an oil rush. Welcome to the Bakken.

The Bakken Oil Formation is apparently so big that it could see the United States free from being reliant on foreign oil for many years to come.

The roads are just a constant stream of trucks supporting the hundreds of oil rigs, pumps and refineries.

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Thanks in large part to the oil boom and North Dakota’s relaxed rules on frakking, it has seen itself being one of two or three states in the country that is actually in the black. They have no debt. They say that there is no need for anyone to be unemployed, there is that much work up here. The influx of men rushing there to seek their fortune from corner of the US is really something to behold.

 

By the way the music is composed by the ever-so-talented and lovely nickharveycomposer.com/

 

YOU CAN SEE MORE PHOTOGRAPHS OF COLUMBUS, NORTH DAKOTA HERE

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