Montana

Nov 13, 2012 3:06 PM by Beth Beechie - MTN News

Possible oil boom along Rocky Mountain Front may lure ND workers

GREAT FALLS - Michael Frawley made the move from his first job out of college to the oil fields in North Dakota. After natural gas prices plummeted, he's now making better money than ever, and he says the monthly drives from work to home are worth it.

Frawley says by the time it comes time to make the 750 mile trip home, he's already worked a 12-hour night shift. Weather pending, that could easily turn into a longer than 24-hour day by the time he makes it back to Missoula.

Frawley said, "I feel like you get used to it sometimes, but yeah. It makes you a little tired. Pull over, take a nap when you need to."

Patrick Montalban and Mountainview Energy of Cut Bank know their new projects mean more jobs in the oil fields, but that a college degree isn't always necessary to make money in the oil business.

Montalban said, "They can be rig operators, they can run trucks. And these people make very good money. They make 60 to 80 thousand dollars in the field or higher."

And while Montalban and other oil companies keep their eye on the South Alberta Bakken, Frawley says while the location of a job closer to home would be nice, he says it'd most likely be his employees that'd make the career move west.

Frawley said, "Jobs would be similar. Drilling over here is no different than drilling over there. I've got a lot of guys from the western side that work for me. You know if they could get something closer to home, I'm sure they'd do it.

Since much of the Alberta Bakken is still being researched, fiscally, Frawley says the jump from his company to another is too big of a risk: "The money's a lot better and there isn't the engineering work for me in Western Montana."

But as Montalban sees more information develop about the oil on this part of the states, he says the jobs for Montanans may not be immediate, but it won't be that way for long.

He noted, "We think it's extremely important to create jobs. We think it creates a great life for our citizens in the state of Montana. You know we just look forward to having the oil and gas business be a intricate part our state now and in the future."

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