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Mark Bratlie, Fargo, Published August 11 2012

In real terms, ND oil boom is short

I appreciated The Forum’s July 29 political cartoon that compared the lifespan of the Oil Patch to that of the mayfly.

It was quite interesting to read in the same issue the “Good news for North Dakota” opinion piece by Harold Hamm, chairman of Continental Resources, which is one of the major companies at work in the Bakken oil field. Hamm states, “North Dakota will continue to benefit from the Bakken for many years to come.” He gives credit to his company for helping to develop the Bakken with the use of modern technology. Hamm goes on to declare that development of the Bakken has helped to make North Dakota “the premier state in America.”

Hamm also declares that the lifespan of the oil field “is projected to be longer than 30 years.” We would do well to keep in mind, however, that 30 years in the life of a state is somewhat comparable to the 24-hour lifespan of the mayfly.

No one pays much attention to a mayfly when it passes away. And when the Oil Patch and its revenues pass on, I have to wonder if Continental Resources (based in Oklahoma City) and Hamm will give a hoot about North Dakota.

Shortsightedness is quite predictable for big oil companies and their executives. Settled residents of North Dakota need to look beyond the oil boom and pay attention to the long-term health of our land and people. In 30-plus years, will we still stand as “the premier state in America”?