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Drilling deeper: The booming Bakken Shale region

The Bakken Shale region, which spans from central North Dakota to the northeastern corner of Montana, is rapidly growing as a result of the oil and gas boom. SPONSORED CONTENT

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October 16, 2014 |
Williams Scotsman

According to Federal Reserve data, the number of new businesses has grown by almost 50% compared with five percent growth for the rest of North Dakota and three percent nationally. The economic growth has put the state of North Dakota in the black, making it the envy of many other states in the U.S.  

The state now has a budget surplus and received more than $749.5 million in state revenues from oil production in 2010 according to the North Dakota Petroleum Council. The council also reports that the state has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. 

As a result of the booming energy business, people are migrating to the area and laying down roots. Williams Scotsman is providing the energy companies with everything from crew quarters to office complexes to storage containers, but a growing workforce also means an immediate need for more commercial and public infrastructure. Schools, hospitals, municipal buildings, shopping centers, restaurants and more are required when communities flourish. 

One town in particular, Watford City, is at the heart of growth in the Bakken Shale region. The McKenzie County town was established in 1883 and experienced the highest population growth during the past decade. Known as the Island Empire because it’s surrounded by water on three sides, the land is rich in fossils, petrified forests, petroleum deposits and wild life. The small western town has evolved in recent years and its unique setting has attracted many new residents.  



Challenge: An outcome of the increased population is an increased demand on the court system. In just a two-year period, the McKenzie Courthouse increased its workforce by 20%. 

Solution: The county turned to Williams Scotsman and worked with experts in our nearby Williston branch to develop space solutions to meet the growing demands. To extend the capacity of the existing courthouse, we provided five modular units. We also made it easier for the county by being their single source for value added products including furniture, ramps, steps and insurance waivers. The wheels of justice are moving a little smoother in Watford City thanks to the speed and flexibility of modern modular space solutions.

A temporary airport terminal was also made possible in the city of Williston thanks to modular space. We provided an aesthetically pleasing space to accommodate 105 passengers. We also installed ramps for passengers and crew to easily access the building. Developing transportation hubs further enhances the lives of residents and accommodates remote workers coming to the area for employment. 

At Williams Scotsman we continue to play an integral part in the ongoing development in the Bakken Shale region. From transportation hubs to government buildings, we provide necessary space to implement new services and keep critical services up and running. While the oil and gas sector is the main engine fueling growth in this energy hotbed, it’s important to recognize other industries that support the population growth over time.

About the Author

Paul Raiford is Director of Energy Services for Williams Scotsman.

Williams Scotsman | The Modular Zone with Williams Scotsman

Williams Scotsman, an Algeco Scotsman company, offers space solutions for the energy, construction, industrial, education, commercial/retail, healthcare, and government markets, with operations in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Williams Scotsman serves customers’ modular space and storage needs through a network of nearly 100 locations throughout North America. In addition to its core leasing business, the company manages and develops permanent modular structures. To learn more about us, head to

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