America is in the middle of a natural gas boom. Exploration and extraction opportunities in the oil and gas plays, among others, are creating new jobs in a down economy and with them the need for additional infrastructure.
Phil Davies, senior editor of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’s fedgazette confirmed the trend in a video blog. “Rapid oil and gas development in the “oil patch” of western North Dakota and northeastern Montana has created huge demand for workers—not just in the oil fields, but also in a range of non-oil industries,” said Davies.
As thousands of oil workers surge into small rural communities, the greatest need now is housing. Oil and gas companies have resorted to sending workers to hotels 60-plus miles away from the drill sites at significant costs, commonly upwards of $200 a night.
“Man camps, as they’re called, help fill the housing gap in towns where nothing is for rent and every motel room is booked,” said an article in the Bismarck Tribune.
Building workforce camps near the drill sites give drillers a place to live and play, without overtaxing local resources and populations. Workers are more rested without long commutes and are able to stay focused on already dangerous jobs.
North Dakota’s Mountrail County, in the center of the Bakken Shale, now has more than a thousand workers living in onsite crew camps, according to Mountrail County planner Don Longmuir.
As more workers relocate to the shale regions, an increased demand for infrastructure is certain to follow. Retail businesses, schools, municipal buildings and healthcare facilities are on the short list of new developments around the corner. Organizations like the Marcellus Shale Coalition are at the forefront, seeking commitments from energy companies to aid with long-term infrastructure development that minimizes impact on local communities.
One solution is modular construction. Greater flexibility and accelerated construction timelines make modular a better choice for businesses and communities looking to keep pace with the emerging natural gas industry.
ModSpace recently completed a workforce housing project for Iron Ore Canada. By choosing modular, the company was able to keep workers closer to the mine and a major expansion on track.