North Dakota: riding the oil rush

Oil has brought money and jobs to this sparsely populated region – but residents fear a ban on fracking will stop the boom

Williston, North Dakota, the town at the centre of the oil rush. Some suggest Williston could experience a tenfold rise in population. Photograph: Gregory Bull/AP

North Dakota sits on top of the largest continuous oil deposit in the lower 48 states. The Bakken shale formation covers about 200,000 square miles, extending through North Dakota and Montana into the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. There are also moves to look for oil in South Dakota, too.

The US Geological Survey estimated in 2008 there were 4bn barrels of recoverable oil in the Bakken Formation. Oil company estimates range as high as 24bn barrels.

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